By Julianne Mosher
The Brentwood campus’s art department is the stepping stone one student is using to become a professional fashion photographer. Jessmae Johnson, a sophomore studying photography, is becoming a well-known artist through her social networking sites and the courses she is currently taking at the Brentwood campus.
Johnson describes her style as “portraiture/fashion with a surrealistic edge.” Inspired by other artists’ work, “I’m heavily inspired by the paintings, movies, books, and music that other artists can produce and that’s where I get my strive from,” she said. She is also heavily inspired by the fashions and cultures of the 1950s, 60s, and 70s. Her admiration for the style of the 1950s can be seen in one shoot she conducted titled “50s” found on her website.
This aspiring photographer indicated her passion for film started when she was a child and her mother allowed her to take photos with disposable cameras. She was fascinated by the camera and being able to capture time. “[The saying,] ‘memories fade but pictures last forever’ really gets to me,” she said. What started out as a mere hobby eventually turned into a passion. She decided in middle school that becoming a professional photographer is what she wanted to do for the rest of her life. “I loved the whole creativity of it; being able to make up a story in my head and then being able to capture that through a photograph. I also really wanted to be able to photograph clothing and make it look beautiful, as well as the model.”
Jessmae believes that Suffolk’s program has helped her grow as an artist. She says that enrolling at this school first really enlightened her view on photography and the professors are encouraging. “We have so much equipment and amazing professors who are really striving for you to be successful as photographers,” she said. When Johnson graduates within the next year, she plans on transferring to either the Academy of Arts in California or to the Fashion Institute of Technology in Manhattan. She says that she has a lot of goals set for her future career.
“I’m really hoping that as soon as I graduate I can be an assistant for a professional photographer for a little while and possibly travel the world to make my knowledge grow even further… Then when I have enough skills and preparation, my dream job would be to work for magazines like Vogue or W.”
Her passion is acknowledged by many of her peers due to her social networking sites. Recently she took a web design class that helped her create her own website presenting her art. On her Facebook profile, Jessmae regularly posts links to her tumblr blog and her website where people can browse through her pieces. Using both film and digital cameras, Johnson has created several different works ranging from recreations of the 50s housewife, fairytales like “Little Red Riding Hood” and “Alice in Wonderland,” and portraits of people covered in “blood.” She presents portraits of newborn babies, clear portraits of her fellow peers, recreations of Quentin Tarantino’s movies “Pulp Fiction” and “Reservoir Dogs,” and band promotion pictures.
Heather Rosenbaum, a sophomore studying visual arts, is a regular model for Jessmae. The two have been friends for 8 years and Rosenbaum has seen Johnson progress as a photographer. “She’s developed her own style with photos and it’s something I admire about her,” she said. Heather has been featured in several different shoots for Jessmae including the “Alice in Wonderland” remake. “She made [the shoot] have a magical sort of feel to it.”
Despite that becoming famous within the art field can be difficult, Heather thinks that Jessmae has the potential to become very successful. “She really takes what she does seriously and really has a passion for it,” she said. “I think if she keeps it up and keeps putting herself out there like she has with Facebook, tumblr, Flickr, ect., she will definitely become well-known around the world.”
“I try to tell a story through my work and want to make whoever stumbles across my photos feel something. It’s so important to me because I feel like this is the way I can express myself and my
visions unlike any other way. I love being able to capture the beauty of people and the world. It’s all I ever want to do,” said Jessmae.
If any students are interested in Jessmae Johnson’s photos or would like to contact her for a photo shoot, visit her website, http://www.jessmaephoto.com or her tumblr account at http://www.jessmaee.tumblr.com