Jessica Schilling Photography in Los Angeles (And Giveaway!)

Today I’m delighted and thrilled to introduce you to one of our newest sponsors, Jessica Schilling Photography, who is located in Los Angeles (where we don’t have a ton of sponsors), and could not be a better fit for Team Practical. Plus, she’s hosting an excellent giveaway.

What I love best about Jessica Schilling’s work is not that she’s talented, with a unique point of view, and takes stellar photos (though all of that’s true). What I love best is that her pictures are infused with a deep sense of love for Los Angeles the place. It’s rare, and lovely. Plus, beyond how awesome she is, her wedding photography runs $1500, which is incredible.

Jessica told me, “If A Practical Wedding had been around when I was planning my 2007 wedding, I would’ve been all about it. My wedding came together with the help of the forums, which had a really similar philosophy to APW—a focus on the marriage, not just the wedding, and a lot of encouragement to have the kind of wedding that really reflected our values and priorities and ideas for how to make that possible. So my husband and I ended up having a vegetarian, feminist, DIY, budget-conscious, LGBT-friendly wedding that I really loved. After our wedding, I couldn’t stop looking at our amazing photos and reliving the day through all the emotions and moments our photographer captured. Being in awe of that inspired me to pursue photography as more than just a hobby. So when I started my own wedding photography business a few years later, I was really drawn to clients who were approaching their weddings the same way I had approached mine. All of which led me to finding APW as a reader first and then realizing this was the jackpot of cool, smart, funny couples whose weddings I would love to be a part of.”

That’s right, you guys are the jackpot.

Because Jessica is so damn excited about getting to work with you, she’s doing a massive and cool giveaway. Here are the details, “I’d like to give away one engagement/anniversary/couple photo session—two hours of shooting, CD with 25 high-resolution images with personal printing rights, and an online proofing gallery. The photo session should be in Los Angeles county and take place before December 18th, 2011. I like to shoot at locations that really bring out the personalities of the subjects so for the entries, I’d love for people to tell me about their favorite places in Los Angeles, whether it’s somewhere with sentimental value to the couple or just a regular hangout spot.” If you’d like to enter (which you obviously should), leave a comment explaining where you’d like to shoot and why. Jessica will pick a winner in a week. I kind of can’t wait to see the photo shoot already.

But it gets better. Jessica says, “In addition to this giveaway, I’d like to offer any APW readers a free engagement photo session when they book their 2011 or 2012 wedding with me.” Yippie! So get in touch already.

As for what Jessica Schilling Photography is all about, well, you’re going to be excited. She shoots extensively on film, and toy cameras, as well as digital. She says, “I started including a few rolls of film from 35mm and toy cameras in each of my portrait and wedding packages as a bonus. I like that it adds another perspective, one that’s a little quirky and fun and old school.” And I know you guys agree.

Plus, to top it off, Jessica was a literature major in college, and then she was a documentary filmmaker. She says, “These backgrounds have shaped the way I take photos. I’m drawn to candid moments and genuine expressions, and telling the story of relationships with those images. My goal is to truly capture the feeling of that day or that moment so that when you look at the pictures months or years down the road, it’s like being there all over again. I’m a sucker for nostalgia—I love it when photos give me that feeling, and that’s what I’m always trying to give to my couples.”

I’m not even going to get into the fact that she’s a photographer for the Los Angeles Derby Dolls women’s roller derby league, because clearly you love Jessica Schilling Photography already. And make sure you leave a comment to enter the giveaway… I can’t wait to see those pictures!

Staff Picks

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  • YAY for a Los Angeles photographer – especially one whose work is as awesome as Jessica’s!

    So, yes, please enter me in the giveaway! Joe & I met while performing in a play, and so I’ve always envisioned our engagement photos being taken in one of those cool old theatres downtown. Specifically, the dressing room, as that is where we really got to know one another over the course of our six month run. Unfortunately, the actual theatre where we performed has been razed.

    And Union Station has a special place in my heart.

    We are also both NYers, so the whole downtown feels like home to us. We’re not really “stand in the waves in matching sweaters” kind of people.
    Oh, and our dog! We would like some photos with our little maltipoo too!

    THANK YOU for doing this giveaway, and welcome (officially) to the APW community!!!

    • Renee, I am shooting a wedding next weekend taking place in a theatre and very excited about it! I also love engagement shoots with pets. Thanks for commenting!

      • Jessica,
        Which theatre? I am so looking forward to seeing those pictures!

        • It’s set up like a theatre, but I think it’s more of a concert venue now – Beyond the Stars Palace in Glendale. Should be a fun wedding – it’s for the couple kissing in front of the mural, and the theme of their wedding is Crazy Hats Dance Party!

          • Renee

            LOVE. IT.

  • I adore Jessica. She’s super-duper sweet and we’ve sent a few emails back and forth and I think she is an amazing fit for APW. Y’all LA’ers are lucky folk!

  • Thanks for the amazing words, Meg – I’m blushing over here! I can’t wait to get to know more LA APW couples!

  • Erin

    Yay yay yay! LA vendors!

    I have way too much to say about why my fiancé and I love LA. I am not a native (the fiancé is) but I do get super defensive with the naysayers because it has SO much more to offer than what people think of as Los Angeles. I love LA because its hugeness makes it a place where you can be whomever you want to be.

    This city is like the third part of our relationship. It’s hard to pick just a FEW meaningful places! The plaza of the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion, since I’ve worked at the Music Center for five years; perhaps that Little Ethiopia stretch of Fairfax, which features one of our favorite restaurants; in the San Gabriel Mountains, where my fiancé finds total peace; Scoops ice cream parlor, where he WAS going to propose but then I just wanted to go home and watch The Wire, so instead he just popped down on one knee in the middle of a random neighborhood in Silverlake while we walked back from the Thirsty Crow; the state park in downtown (the cornfield), just because it’s super neat; the Central Library, because it’s just so damn beautiful and because we read too much.

    And our happiest place of all: our little house in Echo Park on Sunset – right in the middle of the city, but still in the middle of trees, with our two hilarious, awesome cats and too many books.

    [Writing this is making me weepy. Even if we don’t get the photo session, I’m glad for the opportunity to think about how many good memories LA holds for me. Jessica, I’m so glad you’re joining the APW vendors! And sorry this comment was crazy long. It’s just the way I roll – too much detail.]

    • Wow, Erin, I recently wrote a post about places I want to shoot in LA and the Central Library, a pub (and I actually had Thirsty Crow in mind), and at someone’s home were all on the list, as was Union Station. I’m not an LA native either, but I definitely share the same sentiments about loving it here.

    • SCOOPS! Oh how I love Scoops! I love that he wanted to propose there, and you wanted to go home and watch TV. Classic! :-)

      • Erin

        I know, I can’t believe I thwarted my own super cute proposal. We would have TOTALLY gotten free ice cream too! :)

  • Crystin Jean

    Yay! I’m loving this giveaway! Also thank you for informing me of a photographer in LA who’s prices do not start at like $3k and up. :) Love it!

  • As a wedding coordinator & florist in LA, I just have to pipe in and say that I recommend Jessica to all of my brides – as she’s not only talented, but down to earth and great to work with. On “that day” when you feel overwhelmed by everything spinning around you, having a photographer with a calming presence is invaluable. Jess is a gem – and I’m excited for whoever wins the session!

  • Emily York

    I’ve already been looking at Jessica’s photography for our 2012 wedding, so I’m really excited about this!

    My fiance and I first bonded over our mutual love of antiques. We love old cars and antique shops, but our favorite place to go is the Long Beach Antique Flea Market. We love scouring for great deals, eclectic and inspiring finds, as well as the BEST people watching!

    We would love to shoot in an antique store, with old cars, or at the flea market. Something that represents the fact that we were both born in the wrong decade!

    Thanks so much!

    • That sounds really cool, Emily! I’ve been to the Sherman Oaks Antique Mall before, but not yet to the LB or Pasadena flea markets. Love the idea for a vintage theme.

      • Have you seen Midnight in Paris? So hard to go wrong photographing gorgeous people in gorgeous places like that…

        • I have seen Midnight in Paris, and using that as inspiration would make a really incredible photo shoot! Not sure where exactly in LA you could fake 1920s Paris, but I’m sure it could be done with a little research and creativity. Cool idea!

          • Emily York

            Amazing! Love :)

  • Erin

    This is awesome! My fiance Dave and I are planning an east coast wedding (I’m from NY, he’s from Boston) while in Los Angeles 3,000 miles away from all of our family and friends. To say that it has been stressful would be an understatement. We currently have all of our deposits in for venues and vendors without having seen the places in person and/or met any of our vendors face to face. Yup. Thank goodness for the interweb and sites like APW. One of the most heartbreaking things has been that we can’t plan on an engagement shoot with our wedding photographer since we won’t have time on our only trip home between now and the wedding. And of course, I kept thinking “oh who cares, it’s just some pictures.” But it makes me a little sad because there are already so many wedding planning things we feel like we’re missing out on by living far away (meeting up with our wedding party, dress shopping with my Mom, etc.) that it would be nice to have photos that celebrate and embrace the beauty of this place we live in and where we have started this new family together (and thank you to Meg for making me realize that a family doesn’t start with kids, it starts with the two of you becoming your own family unit…and our two kitties of course too!). Sometimes I think it’s hard for our friends and family to “get” why we live so far away but you just can’t explain it unless you live here. Sure there is traffic, and smog, and all the crazy things that LA is “known” for. But there are also gorgeous mountains and hiking trails where you suddenly emerge in this peaceful quiet above all the hustle and bustle. There are twisty little roads that snake around cottages and little houses that leave me making up stories in my head about who must live inside them. Obviously there are beautiful beaches and cool old studio lots that leave me thinking about the stars of Old Hollywood that used to walk the same routes. Then there are our favorite neighborhood places like Bluedog Tavern (Sherman Oaks), Nat’s Early Bite (Sherman Oaks), and Aroma Cafe (Studio City) that have such personality and make me feel like this isn’t just a place we’re living in for now, but a home. We would be honored to have an engagement session with Jessica celebrating all things LA and all things us (and perhaps even learn about a new spot or two) and yay for an awesome new LA sponsor! : )

    • Erin, I had an east coast wedding without a chance to have my photographer do engagement photos, too. We had a friend take some photos for us here in LA and I still love them. And Aroma is my absolute favorite coffee and brunch place!

      • Erin

        We love Aroma, It’s so cute, I could sit there all day. And I love all the little shops down Tujunga. Thanks for responding to everyone’s posts and it is always nice to know we’re not the only ones who have gone through this crazy process of planning from opposite coasts! Welcome to the APW community!

  • I remember you from the indiebride forums, Jessica, and am delighted you’re pursuing wedding photography as a business! (I planned my wedding around the same time you did and am now in the process of starting up a floral business in the Bay Area.)

    • Hi, Emily! Were we in the same cohort? It is kind of hard to put real names with IB names :) Congratulations on your floral business!

      • I was in early 2008. :)

  • We would love to be included in the give-away!

    My husband and I have been married just over a year. We got married in Downtown LA but have spent the last year living abroad but we are moving back to LA on September 14. We love LA and we can’t wait to get back!

    We were rather disappointed with our wedding photographer and we don’t have any of our wedding photos displayed at home. We would really love some photos of us as a couple! Maybe a re-do of some of our wedding photos? Our favorite places are all in downtown. The Central Library, Union Station, and the Market area.

    • Bethany, I’m so sorry to hear your disappointment with your wedding photos and love the idea of doing a re-do session. Welcome back to LA!

  • D. (the fiance) and I just spent a good fifteen minutes trying to decide which place in L.A. represented us. It was hard. We both love living here and moved from Tennessee. He’s been here about two years and I just moved about four months ago.

    We are still falling in love with this place as a couple. We spent a year and a half (our entire relationship) being long-distant, and it was hard. So right now, any place we are together is amazing. Even if that place is a random sidewalk.

    We spend lots of time in Burbank and North Hollywood. We drive up the coast fairly often. We love the Hollywood Bowl and the Getty but don’t know if photo sessions are allowed there.

    Our wedding will take place in Tennessee, as most of my family refuses to get on a plane and be as cheap as possible since we are paying for it ourselves. My mom passed away the day before D. and I became official. We broke up one, for about a month, because the distance was too hard. After dealing with all of that, we are a stronger couple because of it. Even when I feel like I am missing out on the wedding planning experience I always wanted because I am here and the wedding is there, it’s okay because at the end of the day I will still be married.

    All of that rambly (is that a real word?) stuff to say, I would love to have some pretty engagement pictures so that a little bit of the life I live in LA can be present at my wedding in Tennessee.

    • Breannajai, we did long distance for a year too and it was hard and I definitely remember that feeling when we were living in the same city that that was all that mattered. Engagement photos in the city you live in is definitely a great way to bring that element of your lives to your guests when you’re having your wedding somewhere else. I live in the Valley so am a fan of NoHo and Burbank, too, and I know you can do photo shoots at the Getty because I’ve done family portraits there. Not sure about the Hollywood Bowl, but that would be pretty amazing!

    • Erin

      I’m starting to feel less lonely in this planning process learning how many ladies had a similar experience of moving here from the East coast after having a long-distance relationship and then planning a wedding back East! Yay APW for allowing those connections to happen! I moved after my fiance had been here for a year and half and I have now been here almost a year and a half. It gets easier and I love what you said about “still falling in love with this place as a couple.” We feel the same way. Congratulations on your upcoming wedding and welcome to LA! : )

      • Thank you both so much! I really appreciate the support and encouragement.

        I agree that it is much easier knowing that other people have done it as well.


    I haven’t lived in L.A. for almost 10 years now, but approximately 12 hours after my fiance proposed, we flew from Boston to LAX and almost immediately started planning a West Coast wedding, despite the fact we’re in the process of moving to New Jersey. I guess this means I really am a California girl at heart.

    I haven’t been up there in a long time, but your shots at the Griffith Observatory have gotten me totally pumped to take my fella up there at some point. He’s a physicist and I’m a writer, so temples of learning like the Griffith Observatory and the Natural History Museum neatly blend our loves of science and architectural poetry.

    My fiance is a bit of a secret softy, so I know he’d love pictures on the Huntington Library grounds or Descanso Gardens because it’s like putting on a pair of rose colored glasses that make the whole world romantic and pretty, but I think as a couple, we’re more quirky than conventional. Although he’s never lived in L.A., I spent my childhood around places like Little Tokyo, Olvera Street, and the crazy Chinese markets in the San Gabriel Valley. While they sometimes seem like a totally different country (“Fresh turtles for sale, anyone?”), to me, they’re home. A couple of particular hometown favorites are the Alhambra Public Library and Fosselman’s Ice Cream.

    Grand, gorgeous places like Union Station or the Pasadena City Hall can really get our blood pumping, as can cute corners like Fair Oaks Pharmacy. We also love good food, so quirky restaurant locations, like La Grande Orange in Pasadena, really speak to both of us. La Grande Orange is a cozy little restaurant housed in a refurbished train station, and there’s this big sign across the top of their open kitchen that reads “FOOD IS LOVE”. It’s too freaking adorable, and I would so love to have pictures taken there!

    • Tracy, you’re the opposite of all the Angelenos planning east coast weddings! I just visited Huntington Gardens for the first time last weekend and really loved it. But, oh my gosh, La Grande Orange looks so awesome! And I love that there’s a little area next to the train tracks that would also be cool for photos. Do you visit LA a lot, or will you be back before your wedding?

      • TRACY

        Usually I visit LA a few times a year, and I’m actually here right now. I only got engaged a few weeks ago, but it’s been a full on wedding planning blitz while we’ve been in town for a month, and I imagine we’re going to be back at least a couple of times before the wedding next summer, probably for extended amounts of time. My family is here, so orchestrating visits is usually pretty easy, even when wedding planning isn’t. Right now I’m just thankful I’ve missed Hurricane Irene, and now I’m plotting how to avoid all the snow come winter!

        • Oh, nice that you’ll be here a lot. It’s kind of crazy to think of coming to LA from the east coast and missing an earthquake there, right?

          • TRACY

            Ha, you have no idea! The timing of our visit has been unbelievably lucky. I just hope this doesn’t mean my good luck runs out once the wedding rolls around. At this point, the cosmic balance may dictate I get drenched with acid rain or abducted by aliens.

  • Rachel Mc

    I moved to Los Angeles last January with my job, while my boyfriend remained behind in Austin. Needless to say, the city and I started off on the wrong foot! Now, over a year and a half later, the bf and I are no longer long distance and we’re slowly learning to love this city together.

    Since we’re both starting out in the film industry and pretty damn low on funds, we would love to be considered for a “pre-engaged” photo shoot. One of our favorite aspects of the city is all the beautiful graffiti. We love how you can stumble upon some amazing works of art just walking down the street. It would be cool to be able to showcase some of our favorite pieces, like the flower gun on Santa Monica just south of Los Feliz, and the Campbell soup spray can on La Brea and Romaine St (

    Thanks for having this awesome giveaway!

    • I love that you linked to a photo for reference, Rachel, and I’m also a fan of graffiti as backdrops. I’ve taken photos of all the graffiti on Gower across from Paramount before, and would love to do more.

      On a side-note, it was a little rough for me when I first moved to LA and was also starting in the film & tv industry. Once I got used the new normal, which took me about nine months to get acclimated, and especially when I started making enough money to enjoy more of the cool stuff that happens here, I really started loving it.

      • Rachel Mc

        Yeah, we’ve really been embracing the city this summer – lots of movies at Hollywood Forever Cemetery, the Art in the Streets exhibit at MOCA, and we just moved to Mid-City/Little Ethiopia, which we LOVE. A lot of people here have said to just give it some time, and it really seems to be working. And we’ll definitely have to check out Gower!

  • Lisa

    I would love to take pictures wandering through our neighborhood, Silverlake, and our first home together in LA, Los Feliz. Not only is there an incredible variety of scenery, they are home to some of our favorite restaurants, cafes and shops; truly “our” Los Angeles.


    • Lisa, I worked in Silverlake a few years ago and loved going into all the little shops and cafes on my lunch break – like Reform School and Intelligentsia Coffee and some of the other shops. That would be a lot of fun!

  • McSchnieders

    I have to say it is awesome to have a “Practical” Los Angeles discussion. For so long I have felt all alone in my desire for a practical and fun but not devastatingly expensive wedding in LA. So, Yay!

    My fiance and I are getting married at Heritage Square, just outside of downtown. It’s a gorgeous place filled with old, historic homes and buildings from all over LA that were moved there and saved from the wrecking ball. We knew a beautiful place with such history was the place for us! Our love of old Los Angeles stretches from our wedding venue to our historic Pasadena apartment to the places all over downtown where we spend our weekends. Union Station was a place we both loved separately and now love to visit together. We often take the train from Pasadena and just hang out there on our way to Olvera Street or Chinatown (a place I practically grew up running around).

    For the past year my fiance and I have had to live apart while I finished grad school in Scotland and he started his own business here. It’s been tough to sustain a relationship and plan a wedding from afar but we’ve made it through and are now stronger for it. Perhaps that’s why we love Union Station so much, we have the connection to travel, going on excursions and know firsthand the nature of transition, change and adventure. We’d both love the chance to work with you on capturing the beauty of LA and the joy we both feel. Thanks!

    • Aw, I love that you ride the train from Pasadena to Union Station. That’s really adorable, and your wedding venue sounds so cool!

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