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Meet Jess Purple of Matt + Jess in Ojai

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jess Purple.

Jess, let’s start with your story. We’d love to hear how you got started and how the journey has been so far.
After my sophomore year of college, I decided to put education on hold and moved to Mexico for the better part of a year. My dad bought me my first DSLR camera – a Canon Rebel – to take with me and document my travels. I must not have been a terrible photographer, because when I moved home to finish college, I had my first request to shoot a friend’s wedding. That wedding snowballed into several more weddings, and before I knew it – I was shooting a dozen or so a summer.

That was 16 years ago. Since then, I have moved around the country a half dozen times, each time rebuilding and re-branding, honing my skills as a photographer and fostering a connection to my creativity.

Ten years ago, I reconnected with an old college boyfriend who is now my husband and business partner. Matt always had an interest in photography, so it made sense to have him begin second shooting at weddings. After a few years of shooting together, we began offering videography as well and were both able to focus on weddings full time.

Overall, has it been relatively smooth? If not, what were some of the struggles along the way?
The road to becoming a full-time wedding photographer and videographer has not always been a smooth one. Moving several times throughout my career made it incredibly difficult to continue to do photography full-time. I would start building a name for myself in the community I was in, and then have to leave that community behind.

In the days before Instagram, it was so much harder to advertise to a certain region or to even announce that you were there and ready to do business. Because of that, I would usually move to a new place and get a job I wasn’t passionate about just to pay my bills. In doing so, I rarely had much left to give to my photography. It wasn’t until a few years ago when I was laid off from a job that I was forced to take the leap to become a full-time photographer. I don’t know if I would have ever been brave enough to do that on my own, so I look back on that and am very grateful it happened.

In the past year, COVID-19 has definitely impacted our business enormously. All of our 2020 weddings were canceled or postponed, and it’s been a bumpy road. Fortunately, we were able to pivot to shooting smaller gatherings and elopements which have ended up sustaining our business. We’ve also been able to pick up a lot of local commercial work, and for that we are so grateful!

Alright – so let’s talk business. What else should we know about you and your career so far?
I am a photographer/videographer who specializes in capturing life’s beautiful moments – love, weddings, engagements, pregnancy, boudoir, family. I think my work stands out (and is most often described) as a romantic, moody and timeless.

The comment I hear most often from those who’ve been in front of my lens is “You made me feel so comfortable and beautiful.” That’s the thing I’m the proudest of. Most people aren’t models and have no idea how to pose themselves, and this, in turn, makes them pretty nervous in front of a camera. I love breaking down those walls of insecurities and figuring out how to bring out their most beautiful, natural selves. During boudoir shoots, I also hear a lot of “Wow – I look like that?!” And they do! I don’t use Photoshop and my images are always the honest version of how they look. In a day and age where we’re doing a lot of self-judgment, it’s an honor to help people fall in love with themselves.

If you had to go back in time and start over, would you have done anything differently?
If I had to start over, I would have taken the leap into full-time photography/videography sooner. I wouldn’t have waited until a lay-off to start believing in myself.

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