More than a pretty picture

Photo courtesy of Jessica Musser Lilly Musser strikes a soft, summery pose in a field in Southgate. Photographer Jessica Musser said she frequently uses her daughter, Lilly, as a subject when she’s feeling creative.

Photo courtesy of Jessica Musser
Lilly Musser strikes a soft, summery pose in a field in Southgate. Photographer Jessica Musser said she frequently uses her daughter, Lilly, as a subject when she’s feeling creative.

Borrowed camera ignites passion in Trenton woman

By ANGELA NIMS
Sunday Times Newspapers

TRENTON — In 2012, Jessica Musser borrowed her father-in-law’s camera to photograph her then six-month-old daughter. That single act led to more than just capturing keepsake photos: It ignited Musser’s passion.

Four years later, Musser is a self-employed photographer, immortalizing weddings, graduations and more for the Downriver area.

“It’s been a fun journey,” Musser said. “I’m self-taught and very passionate about it. I can do pretty much everything when it comes to photography: families, weddings, children.”

In a typical month, Musser photographs two to four weddings and between four and eight photograph sessions. A wedding can generate up to 1,000 pictures taken. When outside of the studio and feeling creative, Musser’s daughter, Lilly, is a frequent subject of her work.

“Whenever the inspiration strikes, Lilly’s ready to go,” Musser said. “All I have to do is say, ‘You ready to take pictures?’ And she’s all into it. She picks up the camera and I think that’s the next thing to teach her: taking photos.

“The sessions with my daughter are such an emotional release, while creating memories I’ll be able to keep forever.”

Though she makes her home in Trenton, the Lincoln Park native finds peering through the lens grants her a peek at a broad spectrum of emotions, from the fantastical to sobering intimacy.

“Once did a graveyard shoot for Halloween,” she said. “That was interesting — I made her look like she was levitating, so that was fun.”

On the other end of the spectrum, Musser photographed a friend who was diagnosed with Hodgkins lymphoma.

“She invited her closest girlfriends over, and we were there when she got her head shaved,” Musser said. “I took photographs of the process. One friend is a hairdresser — so, we had fun doing different styles and photographing it. It was very emotional for me.”

Musser’s tool of choice is a Nikon D 700.

“Everything I do is digital,” she said. “Then I process through Photoshop and Lightroom. You’re constantly learning. Not a year goes by that I haven’t learned new things. I think that’s really important to keep in mind.”

As to the future, Musser isn’t one to shy away from subject matter.

“I’ve tried my hand at most everything — birth, maternity, boudoir — everything,” she said. “One of thing I would like to photograph is maybe fashion, though some of my photographs come from a fashion approach. Travel and documenting is something I haven’t done too much of, but would be excited to do.”

“To those who are interested in photography, or just starting out, I would say not focus on equipment and gear. Focus on being yourself and letting your creative vision come to life.

“Do your best to control light. Everything that photography is has to do with light. Try out every genre of photography to find your passion. Took me almost five years in business to find some notoriety. It’s only happening because I was passionate and didn’t give up even when things were really bad.”

To see more of Musser’s work, go to www.JessicaMusserPhotography.com.

(Contact Angela Nims at angelanims007@gmail.com.)