News Story

Photographer’s Business Hurting; Supports Lockdown

Work-at-home second job is a fortunate fallback

Jessica Heksem’s Grand Ledge photography studio, Le’Mae Photography, has been closed down since Gov. Gretchen Whitmer issued a “stay at home” executive order on March 23 in response to the COVID-19 epidemic.

Heksem, who lives in Charlotte and opened her studio almost eight years ago, told Michigan Capitol Confidential that it took her about three years to really get established.

Unlike some frustrated owners of “nonessential” businesses, Heksem isn’t angry about the governor’s response to the epidemic; she said she absolutely thinks the lockdown was the right thing to do.

“I work very close to my clients, especially children,” Heksem explained. “I have many different families in and out of my building. There’s no way to social distance yourself in this line of work and I would never want to put anyone at risk of contracting COVID-19.”

With her studio shut down, the photographer is fortunate to have a side job to fall back on.

But as the mother of four children who can’t go back to school this year, she has her hands very full at home while her family stays quarantined.

“I work in media/news during the day so I’ve been working from home while attempting to home school my four children now that they won’t be going back to school until next year,” Heksem explained. “While I’m losing a large portion my income from being shut down, I know that it’s the right thing.”

She said her family is doing their best to abide by the state’s emergency order while Michigan struggles to contain the spread of the pandemic.

“We are pretty much locked up in the house most of the time, unless me or my husband have to go to the grocery store for essentials,” Heksem said.

Despite the challenges, Heksem said she’s trying to stay positive and boost the spirits of other small business owners who are struggling.

Heksem said she’s under no illusion that her business will immediately bounce back once the stay-at-home order is lifted.

“With so many not being able to work or bring in an income, my studio will understandably be slow for a while after reopening until people can get on their feet again,” Heksem said.

Once she can work with the public again, she is planning to offer free graduation photo shoots to students in the Class of 2020, who have had their last year of high school cut short.