We had the good fortune of connecting with Leslie Chester and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Leslie, can you tell us more about your background and the role it’s played in shaping who you are today?
I am from a small town in the Northwest part of Arizona, where the Colorado River meets the state of Nevada, in a town called Bullhead City. I grew up on the outskirts of town, on dirt roads with horses and goats for 4H. I rode horses to the river on Native lands and my quad to my friend’s house when I was older.
I am the youngest of four children. My siblings and I would play outside until the sun went down and dinner was on the table. Besides tag, our games consisted of throwing dirt clods at each other, catching lizards and letting them go.
I had chores. What felt like endless chores at the time. My dad never let me quit anything. My mom always reminded me there were others worse off. They are the kind of parents you respect and you don’t want to let down.
I played sports in middle school and high school. I had people in my life that taught me to put in the hard work.
My husband and I met younger in life. We dated for 5 years before we married in 2000. We are truly best friends. We help each other with work and support each other when and where we can.
Looking back, I believe it was the simple upbringing. Times were just different then…
The fact I could be alone with my imagination, the responsibilities I had, and the work ethic I was taught at a young age. All of those details, including the new memories, with my husband and our family, that has developed who I am today.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
I am a professional photographer in a rural area. My business is focused on team/individual sport portraits, school portraits, headshots and high school seniors.
I was a family/senior photographer about 5 years ago, I was given the opportunity to photograph our school’s softball team. I went out on a limb and took a risk to photograph everyone individually and create the team in post production. Everyone loved it!
The principal saw my work and asked for me to photograph their school portraits the following year. Let me just say, that was a huge learning curve. I watched videos, I took classes; online or in person. I developed my style over the years and cultivated my process, although there is still many improvements to come, I am happy with my work I produce.
My biggest challenge is even though I have been doing this for years, I am still nervous before every shoot or session.
I only overcome those nerves once I start pressing the shutter and seeing my work on the back of that camera…what I created for the client.
I can’t please everyone and my style isn’t for everyone. I think that is the toughest lesson anyone can learn. Art is so personal, so having someone not like your work makes you feel worthless. I have learned to let that go over time.
Any places to eat or things to do that you can share with our readers? If they have a friend visiting town, what are some spots they could take them to?
The area I live in is so diverse. I have many places I enjoy going. One of my favorite places to hike is Grapevine Canyon. It is just on the other side of the river, in Nevada. About a 20 minute drive from my house. I love the Petroglyphs and the desert wildlife.
Driving on the 66 between Golden Valley and Oatman is a cool scenic drive. The winding roads are fun and the scenery is beautiful.
Speaking of Oatman, AZ, it is an awesome ghost town on the 66. Local shops, artists and burros roaming the streets. Whats not to love?
For a relaxing time, I go to Lake Mohave and paddle board or kayak. My favorite time is early morning or early evening. There is something magical about watching the sun rise or set while on the water.
As for food…my friend owns CoVeu Drinkery and Eatery. They are one of the only restaurants on the Colorado River in Bullhead City. They have delicious loaded fries, yum, patio dining and more.
TASA Espresso + Smoothie bar has some FANTASTIC food and coffee items. I get the G.O.A.T. when I go. It is an avocado toast, with goat cheese, tomatoes…it’s just delicious.
Pro Kitchen, Black Mountain Bistro, the Bearded Gentleman and Silvia’s Lindo Sinaloa are my other go to spots. Great food, great service and just great local people.
Who else deserves some credit and recognition?
My “Shoutout” goes to my parents, Darlene and Larry, for my upbringing. My siblings, Beverly, Brook and Penny, for the support and all the noogies I most likely deserved. Shoutout to my husband for his understanding, patience, compassion, love and to my daughters for helping me realize I am stronger than I think.
Profile photo is by Streets of Las Vegas Photography