For the 1851 census, James gave his occupation as China and Glass Dealer, which was also his father's profession. He was recorded living and working in Lymington, with his wife Fanny and first child, Richard, aged 3 months. By 1853 the family had moved to 18 Union Street, Ryde, where another son Leonard was born. James started his successful photography business in the late 1850s and was first listed as a photographer in White's Directory in 1859, at 18 Union St, Ryde, Isle of Wight. He diversified at first, and gave several occupations for the 1861 census:- 'Photographer, Estate Agent, Lodging House Keeper and Reporter'. He employed a Photographer's Assistant, William Cass, who lived with the family, along with one general servant. In 1866 James announced in the local press that he had purchased the stock and negatives of John Symonds, of 15 Union Street. Symonds had just been made bankrupt, (see Symonds and Wheeler, and Brown and Wheeler), and faced difficult times, which turned to tragedy. The repeat business from reprinting Symonds' negatives probably contributed to the expansion of James' business in the second half of the 1860s. The carte de visite shown above was produced in a studio at 15 Jewry St, Winchester. 18 Union St was listed as a branch studio, along with 16 Bernard St and 16 High Street Above Bar, Southampton. In the late 1860s 16 Bernard St was the studio of Rider and Barrett, and 16 Above Bar was a China and Glass Merchant's. Presumably James rented space at both addresses.
By 1871 son Leonard was working with his father as a photographer's assistant.The lease on 18 Union St ended in 1875, and James made a new start in Landport, where he lived for the rest of his life. The 1881 census for Landport, recorded James and his wife Fanny, and children Ellen, Percy and William. James did not give his profession as photographer, and was listed as 'Publisher of tracts' and 'occasional preacher'. James gave his occupation as 'a publisher of photographs etc' for the 1891 census. His son Percy was listed as a photographic printer. Richard James died in 1899.
For more on Richard James see Isle of Wight Photographers 1840-1940 by Raymond V. Turley.