Students making new friends at Welcome Weekend’s Playfair, cheering on the Bears at JQH Arena or shuffling through the snow on the way to class, who’s there documenting it all — capturing the special moments to be forever frozen in time?
A camera in hand and an array of lenses strapped to his belt, anyone who spends time on Missouri State’s campus has most likely seen him running about.
Fifteen years Jesse Scheve -- staff photographer for Missouri State’s Office of Visual Media -- has been able to be spotted around campus. However, he didn’t always know he wanted to be behind a lens.
Scheve began to explore photography in high school and had a friend whose dad worked in the Office of Visual Media, then called the Office of Photographic Services. He met with John Wall, the director at the time, who allowed him to shoot an MSU football game with the office’s equipment.
“(John) said, ‘You know...they’re actually not that bad,” Scheve said with a laugh.
Upon arriving to MSU to pursue a degree in history education, Scheve applied to be a part-time photographer at the office.
“For someone pretty new to photography, I could see great potential in his portfolio,” John Wall, Director Emeritus of the Office of Visual Media, said. “For our student staff we needed photographers that could work well with clients and pretty much fly on their own without great supervision since they mainly work on their own outside the office. I could see that with Jesse’s personality that that wouldn’t be a problem.”
Scheve said by the time he became more involved with photography, he was already so far in his program that he continued to finish out the major.
“I don’t think I envisioned it becoming a career, it was really more of an outlet,” he said. “That’s probably why I chose a different major. Looking back I was also probably afraid of not being good enough, not being able to make a living. But a little bit in, something clicked. I immersed myself in it. I started to love it.”
After college, Scheve worked for a year at Lawrence Photo & Video, now Bedford Camera & Video, along with doing freelance work for the Springfield News-Leader and other local publications.
Ultimately though, Scheve was waiting for an opening back at the Office of Photographic Services and as soon as a position was available, he applied. He has been a full time staff photographer for about six and a half years.
Scheve said working for the Office of Visual Media is the best of both worlds because he is able to pursue his passion for photography and mentor part-time students. Watching students learn, practice and progress in their photography skills is rewarding, he said.
Since starting 15 years ago as a student photographer, Scheve has captured an array of prominent people and events.
Most recently, he photographed John Goodman for MSU’s Onward, Upward campaign.
“We get put into a lot of different situations,” Scheve said. “I really enjoy the challenge of it too and the pace. I like that you're busy everyday doing something and it's such a variety of work.”
University activities continue on past the typical 9-5 work day, which means Scheve’s schedule is ever-changing. However, he said he doesn’t feel like he’s sacrificing his “free time” because he is passionate about the work.
“You know it’s not so bad,” he said. “I do work a lot and the hours vary. I may be gone for a few days for swimming or basketball games on weekends, whatever comes up, but I’m enjoying what I’m doing while I’m doing it. So to me it’s not a big compromise.”
When he isn’t photographing for the university, Scheve likes practicing nature photography, specifically astrophotography — the photographing of astronomical objects, celestial events and areas of the night sky. Working outside of his typical box — photographing students, professors and other college events — allows him to learn new, different techniques, which can be brought back to his job.
Scheve said he feels lucky to have a job where he is able to document the joy of others everyday, which in turns feeds his own joy and happiness.
“Jesse has become one of the most respected photographers in this area,” Wall said. “His talents in photography have grown substantially to where I know he can outshoot me, a task I wouldn’t easily admit to.
“He is also a great friend to all. He is always willing to help and be there at times of need and he can be trusted with any project no matter how complex. He is also one of the most friendly and polite people I know.”