For today's interview we're heading out to Ashland, Virginia, the home of Jessica Robertson Photographic Artistry.
SeniorInspire I like to do my research and I see from your Facebook profile you're married to Johnny Mojo. I hope this isn't too personal, but why didn't you take Mojo as your last name and did anyone ever tell Johnny he looks a lot like the kid from Titanic?
Jessica Robertson Funny story...my husband’s name is John Working, and he is a criminal defense attorney. He tried to change his profile name when he first started to protect the family and hopefully fewer criminal clients would find him on social media. However, he was flagged and Facebook did not believe his last name was really Working. He submitted his birth certificate and still...they would not allow it.
As a joke he changed it to Johnny Mojo and that was okay. He went to Mount St. Joseph’s High School and that is where Mojo came from. He also really likes blues music.
My real name is actually Jessica Robertson Working. I use my maiden name for business because I started the studio before we were married. Also, Jessica Working Photographic Artistry does not have the same ring.
And just for a laugh, John’s grandfather’s name was Dick. True story!
SI What about Jessica Mojo Photographic Artistry?
SI Okay, as a photography instructor, do you prefer teaching larger groups or smaller ones where you can be more hands on?
JR Honestly, I love both. If I have a larger audience, I think I am more effective teaching business. When I have smaller groups I love teaching lighting and posing. After twenty years of being a professional photographer I just love to share whatever I can because I have been so very blessed by this industry.
SI Have you ever had to deal with a student who only wants to tell everyone how they like to do things?
JR Of course! However, it never offends me. We can all learn from each other, and so I try to approach it that way. I am not so set in my ways to think that my approach is the only one or even the best one. On the other hand, I am also always happy to defend the way I do something.
SI As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
JR As a child I went through several phases. I wanted to be a lawyer when I was young. (Kinda funny that I am married to one now.) In middle school I wanted to do something in politics. I’m so glad that was not my path. And for most of high school I wanted to do something in the medical field. I was Pre-med in college and with only one class to complete my Biology degree, I changed my major to Art with a Concentration in Photography. Although I was a bit all over the place, the variable of similarity was I wanted to work with people and help them. So grateful that photography has been that medium for me.
SI What's the very first job you ever had as a kid? And what did you learn from that experience?
JR I worked at a daycare in the two-year-old class throughout high school. I learned that two-year-olds are scary and funny at the same time. I also learned that I was not ready to be a parent in high school.
SI If you wrote a book about your photography career so far, what would you title it?
JR Great question! Maybe something like, “I See You” because I think it is so very important to create images that are a true reflection of the person. I try to adapt my style according to the subject and I see my role as a visual storyteller where I am the vehicle for collaboration with the subject. The images created should be authentic. The visual memories we are documenting are not only important for the visual aspect but how we make each person feel during the experience. I take this role very seriously, and I am honored to get to capture each person that comes before my camera.
SI If you lost all of your senior clients tomorrow, what would you photograph to make up for that lost segment of your business?
JR Such a scary thought. Currently, about 25% of our business consists of families and branding work like headshots for companies. I would probably invest more of my time in marketing those two segments of my business. My heart is with my seniors though, so I pray that does not happen.
SI Who are your photography heroes?
JR Wow! Where do I begin? I admire many photographers for different reasons.
Dorothea Lange was a huge influence in my early career as I loved her eye for capturing emotion and her ability to tell a story through imagery.
Kevin Lemarque is a photographer for Reuters and I did my first internship with him in 1998. We are still great friends, and I am always amazed at his documentary eye.
Tim Walden has always been a favorite of mine. I appreciate his dedication to the craft as well as his desire to help other photographers and elevate the industry. And he creates the most beautiful black and white images!
David Beckham is one of my closest friends and I admire his heart! He gives so much of himself to his seniors and what a gift he has been to so many through his educational efforts.
SI That's a great list! Going to check some of those out for sure. Thanks for sitting down with me today!