Reader Sunshots

‘They tell a story that words sometimes can’t’: This Photographer of the Month loves the raw emotion of candid shots

When Baltimore resident Jesse Zukowski was nearing her due date she envisioned having a photographer capture those first moments of her baby’s life. But Zukowski said she was shocked at the costs of hiring a newborn photographer. This inspired her to pick up her camera again after an eight-year hiatus from photography and begin documenting her son’s life. She even offered to shoot photos for her friends.

“I wanted to become a photographer and charge people reasonable prices or near nothing,” Zukowski said, “I love taking pictures of children and families."


While the pandemic has paused her client work, the 29-year-old Community College of Baltimore County, Catonsville radiology student regularly books photo sessions and events through her photography Facebook page.

Zukowski is the winner of last month’s SunShots photo contest, “Stoop Portraits” with her photo “Playground closed,“ a portrait of her 3-year-old son.

“Playground closed“: Trying to explain to my son Jayden that we can’t play on the playgrounds right now. April 2020.

Read more about the photographer below and be sure to enter a photo in the SunShots contest “Emotions” for a chance to be profiled and featured on the @baltimoresun Instagram account. And, don’t forget to vote for your favorite photo entries.

Tell us a little about you and how you became interested in photography?

My name is Jessica I am from Annapolis, Maryland currently residing in South Baltimore’s Lakeland neighborhood. My grandmother would dress my sister and me as kids just to take pictures. By middle school I had a camera in my hand every day. In high school I found my passion in a photography class.

What style of photography do you like the most?

I enjoy taking portraits but most of all candid shots are my favorite. Candid shots bring out the raw emotion from people and their facial expressions. They tell a story that words sometimes can’t.

What inspires you to pursue photography as a hobby?

The rush and the feeling I get when I’m editing and taking pictures. It’s just a feeling I can’t describe. It makes me feel really good.

Tell us more about the photo you submitted to the “Stoop Portraits” contest


We were sitting on my mom’s stoop in Lakeland, trying to explain to my 3 and a half year old that playgrounds are closed. His reaction and facial expression was priceless and captured. We kept trying to explain the face masks. It took him a while but he got the concept after a few days. He’ll be 4 in August.

What camera gear did you use?

I used a Canon EOS RP Mirrorless Digital Camera and Canon adapter with a 50mm 1.8 lens.

How has Baltimore’s stay-at-home order altered your work as a photographer?

I’m taking more photos of my family now, but taking less photos because of venues being closed. My friend didn’t have have her baby shower.

What advice would you give to other photographers?


Follow your dreams even if it’s just a hobby. I learned a lot of stuff through YouTube tutorials. Get out and explore the outdoors during this troubling time, and release your inner child.

Where can people see more of your work?

On Facebook at and on Instagram at @z_anchorphotography.