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Meet Jodee Debes of Jodee Debes Photography in Santa Monica

Today we’d like to introduce you to Jodee Debes.

So, before we jump into specific questions about the business, why don’t you give us some details about you and your story.
My love of photography has been a story in the works for quite some time. I grew up constantly drawing and painting, fell in love with art history and eventually found myself in a dark room learning the art of film photography in high school. I never imagined that I could make a full-time career out of it until about 4 years ago when a few serendipitous moments happened and inspiring people walked into my life.

I was working in advertising as a client liaison at the time, which was such a tease because I was so close to the creative spirit and yet still too far. I started to feel the itch to seek a job with more creativity and began testing a few different paths from graphic design to copywriting; but I always kept returning to photography.

One fateful YouTube Video, believe it or not, was a pivotal changing point. One of my best friends showed me a stop-motion video that two brilliant Kiwis had put together from a wedding. We reached out to them to figure out what gear they used, which led to us getting drinks with the creative duo, Bayly & Moore, as they were passing through LA from New York back to New Zealand. I still remember Si saying “You should do weddings” and thinking to myself “I should do weddings.” He forever changed my life with those 4 words.

From then on out, I was addicted to learning everything I could about wedding photography. This obsession led to meeting another one of my incredible mentors, Brian Leahy, who took me on as his second shooter and taught me his ways. From him, I met Laura Grier who has inspired some incredible trips and my travel photography work. She was actually the person who convinced me to finally quit my “day job” and travel to Guatemala with her. It had been a year of double dipping, and I was ready, so I took the plunge, booked the plane ticket and never looked back.

It’s been a wild ride, and I’m so excited to see where my camera takes me next. It’s incredible to look back and I’m so thankful to all the talented people who saw my passion and easily convinced me to say “yes”. I hope to be that person for other aspiring photographers.

We’re always bombarded by how great it is to pursue your passion, etc. – but we’ve spoken with enough people to know that it’s not always easy. Overall, would you say things have been easy for you?
I’m not going to down play the hard work, late nights and constant flow of coffee that has allowed me to achieve all that I have in such a short time, but overall, it’s been a smooth road. I feel strongly that if you want to do something, you can do it. The hard part is figuring out what you want to do. And for knowing that piece, I feel very lucky.

Once you define your goals, it’s amazing how many people want to help you accomplish them. So, my biggest piece of advice is to be a good person, help others and watch what you give come back to you.

So, let’s switch gears a bit and go into the Jodee Debes Photography story. Tell us more about the business.
I am a wedding and travel photographer. I specialize in capturing wild adventures + fleeting moments.

I take a lot of pride in making real connections with my couples and learning the inherent culture of a location in order to bring out genuine emotion and real moments in my photography. My goal is always to create unique images that tell a story.

I think the way that I interact with people is what sets me apart from others. I feel giddy every time I receive feedback that a shoot was “so easy and fun” or that a bride felt as though another bridesmaid was joining the day when I walked into the room to start shooting.

I can think of countless examples that remind me why I’m so proud to be a photographer and love this job so much including when a bride told me she’s so thankful for a certain image at her wedding because it’s the last photo she has of her father before he passed away or the moment I photographed a Guatemalan family and brought them to tears because they had never had a family photo before or the time I photographed a same sex wedding when it finally became legal and two men who have loved each other for over 24 years were finally able to exchange vows publicly and legally.

It’s incredible to leave a legacy of moments behind and form real friendships with people all over the world.

Has luck played a meaningful role in your life and business?
I think luck is very important and has played a huge role in my business, but you have to be ready for luck.

It’s so important to recognize opportunities as they come your way, trust that things happen for a reason (even bad things) and continue to identify new goals so that you know what luck means to you.

And always remember, if you’re not getting rejected, you’re not reaching far enough. And you never know when someone will luckily say “yes” to your wild idea.

Contact Info:

Image Credit:
Jodee Debes Photography


  1. Sherri Johnson

    June 6, 2017 at 18:35

    This is a beautiful story and you are such a inspiration. <3

  2. Michael

    June 8, 2017 at 20:27

    Ahhhhh, Jodee your pictures are amazing! I hope to hire you for my wedding one day!

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