Jesse Chamberlain Marble developed her first photo at age 12 (in her bathtub, nonetheless) and never looked back.
And while she’s moved on from her first Pentax K1000, the LA-based photographer still has a camera in her hand most days of the year.
Jesse’s work conveys a nostalgia for a year from no definitive era. Her photos utilize a spectrum of pastels that emanate a dream-like effect, further enhanced by their playful use of silhouettes and optical illusions. Her portraits are vibrant and full of an energy that demand a second, third, or fourth look—as her subjects are positioned so cleverly within their respective environments.
The creative entrepreneur is also the co-owner of Our Labor of Love, Smilebooth, and The Flashdance, all in the photography, wedding, and fashion categories. Having photographed over 500 weddings, Jesse left no design stone unturned at her own wedding to groom Jimmy Marble last year at the Madonna Inn. The couple designed everything from the menus to the Do Not Disturb signs, ensuring that all wedding decor was amplified by the iconic and prismatic Southern-California hotel. Naturally, the photos are amazing.
On your website, you say photography is your superpower. Can you tell us why it’s so powerful to you?
It’s my favorite language. Just as a raise in an eyebrow and slight little smirk can be a universal feeling in any language. A photograph speaks clearly in any culture and every language.
What do you think it takes to make it as a successful photographer today?
Success in photography takes a lot. First and most importantly, it takes a defined style. So when people see it, they know it’s yours. Next, I would say a lot of work and drive, like in any other version of success. For me, I personally love collaborating with new artists on personal projects in my off time to build a community and elevate my vision.
Tell us how you got your start as an artist, and how you eventually found your niche.
I’ve been painting, sculpting, drawing and dancing since I was three years old. My dad and stepmom built a dark room and a photo studio in my house when I was 12. Placing that blank piece of paper in the developer and gently rocking the developer over it until the image appeared was complete magic. It was just a photo of friends at an amusement park but to me it was the beginning of everything. I ended up at a boarding school called George School which had an incredible photo department. My roommate freshman year was Elliott Erwitt’s daughter. Sally Mann sent her daughter there. The head of the photo department was Mark Osterman, who is considered a master of wet-plate collodion photography. I was fortunate enough to have some pretty incredible inspiration guiding me in my youth. For work through college and the early years, I worked for PR firms shooting restaurants, celebrities, homes etc. as well as photographing weddings. It’s been a long road that has led me to fashion editorial and advertising, which fulfills both my love for collaboration as well as connection to humans.
People look to you for inspiration, but where do you go to feel creatively inspired?
I have a few people in my life who have been what i consider my creative match. It’s like a best friend but it involves a lot of brainstorming ideas and making them. Our relationship is fueled by it. We trust each other completely creatively so the critiques and excitement come easily and genuinely. Our projects never feel like work.
Do you feel that the power of social media has impacted your career as a photographer at all?
Yes, in all the ways. It’s an incredible resource when used to build your creative network/team. In reverse, it’s a great business card for people to get a quick glance of what you do and how to reach you. My husband and I enjoyed each other's work before we even knew each other because of Instagram.
Who are some female artists that inspired your past? Who do you think is a rising star?
Sally Mann, Mona Kuhn, Ariana Papademetropoulos, Kimia Kline, Yayoi Kusama.
What about your job makes you feel the most fulfilled?
The rising tide. Watching other creatives that we work with grow.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
What’s been the biggest surprise or highlight of your career to date?
I’ve started producing short films recently with my husband and that has been thrilling. The most recent one, UGH, was shown at Tribeca Film Festival.
What keeps you up at night?
My six-week old baby and four-month old puppy.
What are the common challenges you've seen among female creatives in business?
A common struggle is that women aren’t taken seriously until they prove themselves.
When you hit a bump or hurdle in your career, how do you find a new road + switch gears to find success?
Again, it is all about collaboration. In any job, there will be setbacks, whether its budget, talent, location etc…and in my own experience, between the art director and my producer, one of us will be able to see a creative way out.
Artists have it tough when it comes to pricing talent/skills. What’s the best advice you have for artists/designers/photographers out there who are working to turn their creative skills into a career?
I think each artist gradually sorts this out at their own speed. Most people start working for free and doing passion projects and as your skill increases so does your pay. If you are still building your portfolio, it’s not something you need to know right away. Eventually, you will know the value of your time and most likely that value will increase as you go along.
What are you most excited for in 2019?
More of the same! We (my husband and I) have a couple shorts we are excited about making. More editorials. More all-women collaborations.
Photography by Annie McElwain Photography
Photoshoot skincare provided by Dermalogica