Portrait Photographer, Los Angeles
Margaret Leyva is a photographer of Native American descent sharing her time between her art, her baby Frances, and her baby daddy. She was born in Palm Springs and spent most of her early years moving around California. She finally settled in Los Angeles and focuses on portrait photography, experimenting with color lighting, textural backgrounds, and horoscope cross-stitching.
Are you born and raised in LA?
No, I actually was born in Palm Springs, California. I moved around a lot growing up, but ended up in the LA area at twelve years-old. So my childhood was the desert, and my teen years were the city.
How do you manage being a full time mom and photographer?
From the outside, it probably seems like a lot of work--and don’t get me wrong, it is-- but it doesn’t feel that way most of the time. Mainly because I love being a mom and I love photography. If I didn’t have my boyfriend, Nathan, I’d probably go insane. After a long day, filled with shoots or not, he comes home and he’s my best friend so I just get to decompress and rant and be myself. Also, Frances is such a good baby. She’ll just sit and watch the shoots, although sometimes she tries to steal the spotlight and gets into a few frames.
I try to schedule shoots around nap time, that’s my real secret.
It is very rare to see young photographer develop such a unique and distinct esthetic as yourself. Can you tell us more about it?
Another thing that I feel like looks more impressive from the outside perspective! I’m always pushing myself, always looking at my peers’ works, and always creating in some way or another. I’m constantly appreciating art and seeing what elements I love and how I could make that my own. I can only imagine that surrounding myself with so many various aesthetics is what caused me to have a distinct one. At the end of the day you like what you like, and I’m forever searching for the tiny things I love and attempting to do them justice in my work.
Who are the people on your roll?
The first one is Neph, she’s Nathan’s sister. What’s crazy is I always wanted to shoot her in high school, and then I ended up having a baby with her brother. The next girl is Tula, my Tula. I love her. We went to high school together. She’s a couple years younger than me, an amazing artist herself, and one of my closest friends. I think you have one of Frances, Neph, and her boyfriend, Jackson in there too. And last you have Dan, which was someone I was shooting and simultaneously trying to finish the disposable roll. But I wish I would’ve waited because I ended up taking really good photos of him with a beautiful pink/blue sunset later on.
Kinda cheesy, but if you could pick anyone dead or alive to model for you, who would you pick?
Lucy Liu!!!! Hope Sandoval !!
Your idea of happiness?
Being with my family.
Your idea of misery?
Being alone and petty.
If not yourself, who would you be?
Would still be me, just with a more financial stability haha.
Okay so, I don’t like to idolize people, but! I’ll say Elle Woods. Or basically anyone who’s overcome their own personal struggle and is a better person because it.
What is your present state of mind?
Bedside table books?
The Celestine Prophecy by James Redfield and The Glass Castle by Jeannette Walls.
What do you do if you can’t sleep at night?
I honestly just have to like curl into a pillow or Nathan. I used to have Frances to cuddle, but now she likes to sleep in a crib.
Do you collect?
Um oddly enough I collect guitar picks. I do not play guitar, but if I see one on the ground, I’ll grab it. Also stones, like precious stones.
What is the best dish you can cook?
I could lie, but I don’t cook. It’s not bad when I do, but that’s hardly ever. So I’ll say I’m really good at ordering Thai or Indian.
What is your middle name?
What do you do in your free time?
Free time when you’re a mom is the tiny window after they’ve gone to sleep and just before you go to sleep. So sometimes I watch crime shows with Nate.
What inspires you?
Honestly...makeup looks, textures, and when the light is hitting something just right--I get super excited. I’m usually just trying to recreate the things I see in my head when I daydream.
What do you do for money?
I get cash aid from the state, very glamorous. So my photography funds anything that isn’t rent or food.
What do you do for pleasure?
My new thing is yoga, very proud of myself. I also like to go to museums and parks with my little family. And facemasks, can’t forget about skin care, love my skin care.
Tea or coffee?
What is the strangest thing you believed as a child?
Maybe that there were fairies all around me.
What are your plans for this weekend?
All booked with shoots, but secretly wishing Nathan, Frances, and I could go to the desert.
Alright by Kendrick Lamar (because I’m just like, oooh yes. I’m gonna be okay. Thanks, Kendrick.)
Right or left handed?