Get to Know a Wedding Photographer: JSL Pictures

Today’s photographer interview is with Jessica of JSL Pictures based in San Francisco, CA! Enjoy:

Tell us a bit about yourself and your company

I’ve been working as a photographer for 10 years and was first trained as a commercial photographer in New York. I later went on to pursue my MFA in London and was awarded the European Leica Award. My work has been exhibited throughout the US and Europe. I grew up in Northern California and I was happy to return here after living on the East Coast and overseas. My interest in weddings began in college when I helped a friend out and photographed her wedding. It was slow, gradual transition to solely pursue wedding photography but I prefer it over the other photography work I’ve done.

Read the full interview after the cut!

How did you get into wedding photography?

Photography for me is a life-long passion. I took my first class while in high school back when you learned on film, in a darkroom. I remember it just clicked -pun intended- for me and I knew I wanted to spend my life taking photos. I didn’t go straight into wedding photography though, I took the scenic route instead. My experience shooting fashion and art photography enriches what I do and sets me apart from my fellow photographers. I am glad it unfolded like this for me.

What is your favorite part of the wedding day to capture?

I strive to capture the story of the day as it unfolds. The excitement, nervousness, joy, tears and tender moments between the couple and their guests; all of these are important in telling their story. It’s important the couple feels at ease with me, as I spend more time with them than any other vendor. There’s nothing more awkward than seeing a photographer over-step their boundaries which can make the couple feel like they are in a fishbowl. I am routinely complemented by my clients on how comfortable I make them feel.

What is the most awkward moment you’ve experienced while on the job?

When I first started out I would “second shoot” working for local photographers, which was a mixed bag depending on who hired me. One time the photographer I worked with kept over stepped his boundaries with the couple throughout the day, and you could see it was very trying on the couple. During the ceremony, he proceeded to photograph the entire exchange inside the crowded, small gazebo where the couple and the officiant were. His lens was in their faces and they looked unhappy about it but he never moved. I felt so bad for them. I never worked with that photographer again.

What is your favorite venue and why?

I am based out of Sonoma Country, in Petaluma, thirty miles North of San Francisco, so many of my couples choose to come up here to the wine country because of the many wineries and gorgeous old barns so close to the city. It’s hard to pick one just one venue, but I love Olympia’s Valley, in Petaluma. It’s a large, family owned estate with an organic farm, stunning Victorian house, rustic redwood barn, and a lake on the property. I also adore Chanslor’s Ranch, in Bodega, for rustic intimate weddings and also because I like the work they do there as a horse rescue.

Nikon or Canon?

Nikon. I think they’re both great. For me it’s more about how you use the tools, than what there are.

What is your dream location to shoot a wedding?

I love to travel, so I am happy when I get the opportunity to shoot destination weddings. I’ve been fortunate to photograph weddings at Yosemite, Big Sur, Minneapolis, rural Vermont, and also Mexico. Outdoor locations are always amazing because I love to take advantage of natural light.


If you could shoot any celebrity wedding (past, present or future), who would be the lucky couple?

Although, most wouldn’t consider them to be celebrities, I’d love to travel back in time and photograph my parents wedding. It would be such a honor to witness the tender moments between them as they shared their vows and celebrated their love for one another with our families and their friends.

What’s the biggest lesson you’ve learned, and would pass along to other new wedding photographers just getting started?

Strive to continually push and challenge yourself, never get complacent. Also learn from your work, review it and see where you can improve.

What tips or advice can you give to couples who are looking to hire a photographer to cover their big day?

My suggestion is do your research and find a photographer whose style and personality you like. Meet with them in-person or on a video chat, if that’s not possible. It’s important that you feel comfortable around them as you will be spending a great deal of time with them on one of the most important days in your life. It’s also nice if you can do an engagement session beforehand because it allows for time to get to know one another, which goes a long way for making you feel more at ease on the actual wedding day.

Thanks Jessica! For more about JSL Pictures, please visit her WeddingLovely Vendor Guide profile or head straight to her website.

Do you have any questions or comments for Jessica? Add them to the comments below!

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