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Meet Jessi Simeri of Photography By Jessi Marie

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jessi Simeri.

Hi Jessi, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
I suppose it would be fitting to say I grew up with a camera in my hand, but that’s not how my journey began. I actually stumbled into photography in college. After switching majors from Kinesiology to Fashion merchandising, I quickly worked my way up in the fashion world selling to top companies such as Nordstrom and Forever 21. Brainstorming new ways to sell the pieces, I decided to start styling and photographing the pieces to display on flat lays or models for our buyers. Creating something as simple as a “look book”, was actually where my photography was born.

By age 21, I started a life and family with my ex-husband in Simi Valley and parted from my career. But without any surprise, my love for photography resurfaced and shifted in the most perfect way when my son was born. HE right then became my whole “why”.

Families, children, newborns…I loved them all. And quickly submerged myself in every possible way to build and learn this field. It felt SO good to have something of my own again and to contribute financially even if it wasn’t by much in the beginning. I missed that piece of me so badly.

Shortly after my second son was born, my WHY grew.

At 26, my marriage ended and I moved into my parent’s home in San Diego with my two boys ages 2 and 4. By starting over with absolutely nothing and being a sole provider, THAT became my fire. Pushing me to rebuild not only my life but my business all over again in North County. Meeting new families and networking as much as I could. While also maintaining relationships with my families in LA/Ventura County areas.

I still had to hold several jobs to afford as much as I could for the boys and I until my business picked up. Cal Fresh, Food stamps, Medi-cal…You name it. I was on it. But still, my photography business could only be part-time.

So, I saved money, went back to school as a Medical Assistant-XRAY tech. One week before I finished my comps for XRAY, my school went bankrupt and closed its doors. Unable to pursue a career in radiology, I continued as a Medical Assistant in urgent cares and later for Spine Surgeon while gradually picking up business on the weekends and building my clientele down in San Diego.

Then there is my husband Bryan. My light. My other huge WHY. And also HOW. We allowed God to work in our lives and continued to trust in his plans for us as our long-distance relationship finally ended in 2019 when got legally married with our parents and my children present. We trusted in timing and the hardships leading up to the opportunity to building our family with my boys as we imagined under one roof all together. Without my husband’s support through each season of these past years, he encouraged me wholeheartedly to go ALL IN with my business for the first time. Not just a part-time gig anymore, or a passion of mine. It was finally the real deal. He encouraged me wholeheartedly to really pursue this opportunity for me and our family.

So beginning in 2019, my life and career was forever changed. I have challenged myself to set boundaries, work smarter not harder, pour into my clients and their needs and really push myself toward growing my business the way I had always dreamed. For the last two years (covid included) it wasn’t the easiest transition but embracing all the hardships is no fear of mine. As I have faced what I considered the worst and came out not only on top but a better Mother and Wife because of it.

Would you say it’s been a smooth road, and if not what are some of the biggest challenges you’ve faced along the way?
Nothing about my journey has been smooth, but that’s honestly what I love so much about it. I love the fact that I can be here now, share my story and remember how far I’ve come because I refused to settle or give up. I just evolved. Looking back, reminding myself how important each and every season was and will always be in past and present. As well as the incredibly supportive people during those journeys.

When I finally went ALL IN with my business, re-building from the ground up made me realize how different the market had become and its needs. How diverse and how almost overwhelming it had seemed. While all these variables and many more, I had to really focus on what I could do, what I brought to the table and not compare myself to others. Because the truth is, there were endless talented photographers out there but I didn’t want to be intimidated, so it just motivated me! I loved watching artists grow and succeed.

The biggest take from this business since 2019 is the sense of community. And I will say it 100 more times… COMMUNITY OVER COMPETITION. The only competition that matters is the one you have with yourself. I have met SO many incredible women in this business over the years and I am completely in love with the fact that the Photography Community has come SUCH a long way since I started ten years ago. The ability for everyone to support and encourage each other has been such a light and makes this business so much more unique!

Obstacles, Challenges, everything in between… those are always welcome, bring them on!

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about Photography By Jessi Marie?
I am a Photographer highlighting in Family, Love and Maternity. Thriving off of creating real life experiences to bring out genuine emotion and connection. Which was actually an interesting challenge at first. But when you LOVE people, you love all kinds of people! And learn them. Enjoy them! I love diving into my time with each and every family and really connecting with them. Creating a space where they feel comfortable with and in front of me.

I have spent so much time and worked with endless families finding new ways and creating new energy spaces to make this vulnerability acceptable so it can ultimately be captured. Especially with children, I am COMPLETE dork. So being silly, sometimes not even trying, does the trick. Allowing them to cultivate or come up with their OWN ideas for a portion of the session. It’s fun to involve them. Especially for the whole family!

Let’s EMBRACE the chaos together. So parents, don’t fret. I GOT YOU! Especially with littles…may we have them, of course we know them, yes we’ve all been one. Raising children is sometimes like stacking paper in front of a moving fan. But there are also so many incredible parts of it. And those moments are why we do it. This is my brand. These are ALL the reasons I have focused on Families, Love, and Maternity. This is where my heart is, this is what I hope to always bring to my families.

What matters most to you?
What always matters most to me is my families walking away from a session, thinking they didn’t get what they expected…they got so much MORE.

We can walk into situations, experiences feeling like we expect some sort of specific outcome. As I imagine every family does when they choose to work with me. But, when I exceed that, THAT makes my job even better.

Look, we can’t always anticipate what our children will do, how the weather will be, or what other factors may come into play. And that is life. And those are just opportunities to create some of the best memories believe it or not. I love pulling from those moments of uncertainty and really hitting home with families when they see their galleries. Gifting them with an experience and keepsake of what every family should and will treasure for years.

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