Photographer Spotlight: Jesse Leake

2015.05.18 Cuba Trip 2015.05.18 Cuba Trip
There’s no question that wedding days are incredibly beautiful. From the glowing bride and grinning groom to the flower-laden altar and impeccably set tables, there’s something gorgeous, emotional, and meaningful around every turn. It’s a feeling you’ll want to capture forever, and there’s no better way to do that than by hiring a truly talented photographer. One of our favorites? Jesse Leake. He’s been shooting weddings for almost 15 years, and is an expert at capturing those moments and details you’ll always remember.

Where are you based? I’m based in San Francisco. 

Why did you become a photographer? I’ve always loved taking pictures of the people and places in my life. After spending time traveling abroad and taking pictures during my journeys, I got a lot of positive feedback from others about my work. That inspired me to take my photography to the next level.

What do you love about it? With a camera in hand, I am totally immersed in the moment and encouraged to look for meaning and beauty in life.

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What makes your approach to shooting a wedding different? I approach a wedding as an open observer, there to seek out and document the beauty and feeling of the day in a natural way. I am sensitive to respecting the feelings and nature of my clients.

What medium do you work in? I shoot both with film and digitally. 

When did you start photographing weddings? I started shooting weddings in 2001. While in college, I spent my summers as a wedding videographer. At one of those weddings, I met Los Angeles-based photographer Joe Buissink. Watching him work, I was impressed by his easy-going nature and ability to capture candid moments. Later that night, I looked up his website and the inspiration for my career was born.

What is your favorite moment to photograph at a wedding? I enjoy all of it, but If I had to choose, I would say the couple’s portraits. I enjoy the collaborative process of working closely with my clients, implementing my creative vision and bringing out their natural beauty.

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What is your favorite location to shoot on the West Coast? Can’t beat the Napa Valley – Beaulieu Vineyard in Napa and Santa Lucia Preserve in Carmel are a few favorites.

Is there a type of wedding that you’ve never shot that you would love to shoot? I’d love to go to Europe and shoot a wedding in Italy or France.

Aside from weddings, what else do you like to photograph? I spend most winters doing travel photography, and am excited about my recent partnership with Pottery Barn, where my work is now available for purchase.

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What inspires you? Location, beauty and people inspire me.

What do you like to do when you’re not photographing? I love getting dinner with friends, doing yoga, antiquing, snowboarding, and traveling. 

What’s a fun fact about you that your clients might not know? I’m a juicer. Green juice is my coffee, and what you’ll find in my bag on wedding days.

What do you wish couples knew before hiring a wedding photographer? Take the time to get to know the photographer you want to hire. How much experience do they have? Are they good-natured? Is their work consistent? How good are they in low light? Are they passionate? Be sure to ask to see a full album or gallery from one wedding, not just a “best of” gallery. 


What should couples know and be prepared with when they meet with you for the first time? Before meeting me, they should have a date and venue decided. They should have an idea of their photography budget and be familiar with my work.

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