Jess Onesto

OWNER / PHOTOGRAPHER - CHEERS BABE PHOTO

I am a California based (but passport ready) plant mama & photographer helping FUN & creative couples capture their toast worthy weddings.

If you could tell your younger self something you’ve learned along the way, what would you say?

There’s a few things for sure. One would be for my young self to stop worrying about how old I was. I started shooting weddings when I was 20 and it seemed like everyone I encountered was almost a decade older than me, and that left me feeling really insecure in my ability. Regardless of the fact that I was totally green (looking back I am mortified of the images from that time), all that I really needed to do was focus on getting better at my craft with tons of practice and serving my clients well. The other thing I’d tell my younger self would be find your tribe. Like now. It is no joke being an entrepreneur. This job can look so glamorous on the outside with all the travel and happiness and dancing and then the very next day you’re completely alone at your computer. It’s such a lifestyle going from such an extreme level of excitement one day to experience complete silence and solitude the next. I’ve learned to lean into my community rather than to see them as a threat. Some of my dearest friendships have come from talking about the shared experiences we have as image makers and entrepreneurs and truly cheering one another on. Your community is your tribe, you lean on each other and that kind of support is priceless.

What is the most unique or special place you’ve worked/done a shoot?

"Hands down a wedding I did in the Valle de Guadelupe in Mexico in 2017. The area is just outside of Ensenada and super accessible from Southern California and is Mexico’s own version of wine country. This particular client was super special - the groom’s dad owned a vineyard down there and my second shooter & I were invited to stay at the neighbor’s property. We literally walked to the wedding to start the day! It was amazing. The morning of the wedding, we heard someone picking oranges off the trees outside of our cottage soon to find out that they had prepared fresh squeezed orange juice and a mouthwatering serving of chilaquiles for breakfast for us. I’ve never quite experienced such familial hospitality before. One of my favorite moments of that day was when both the bride’s father and the groom’s father prepared a special toast for the bride & groom that included opening a valuable bottle of wine from the property’s very first harvest (vintage? wine words? ask my mom, idk). It was such a beautiful picture of that sacrificial love that you see in a successful marriage - I still have tears in my eyes thinking about that moment!"

What inspired you to become an image maker?

"I was always a creatively minded kid, drawing, sewing, making things, but I think I thought that most kids enjoyed that and when it came to choosing a career, that I was supposed to pick something with proven longevity. I started college as a biology major believe it or not, thinking I’d eventually teach. I passed my classes, but struggled a lot emotionally not feeling fulfilled by what I was learning & I decided to make a leap. In the middle of my Freshman year, I switched my major to fine art and honestly chose photography as my emphasis because it seemed less intimidating than painting, sculpture or design. As soon as classes began, I fell in love. With light, composition, and seeing my creative ideas come to life in the darkroom. I remember so vividly the day that I made my first darkroom print from a pinhole camera I’d made from a Pringles can. It blew my mind that it worked and I still can’t get enough of that feeling when you see that final image. As a junior, I had to have an internship for class credit and was randomly paired with an incredibly talented wedding photographer. I knew immediately after assisting my first wedding that this was the niche I was meant to be in. I’ve been shooting weddings ever since and here we are 7 years later! Getting to be a small part of such special moments in people’s lives keeps me inspired on the daily!"