Penny Square new home of photography studio

Terry RogersBusiness, Headlines, Milford Headline Story

John Mollura will hold a ribbon cutting and grand opening for his new studio in Penny Square on March 3

John Mollura, who has made a name for himself with his empowering and creative photographs loved his studio in a downtown historic building. The only issue was that the studio was on the second floor with no handicapped access.

“About a year ago, it was put in my ear to find an inclusive space that had accessibility for everybody and I thought “I’ll do that someday.” It got pushed in the back of my mind,” Mollura said. “Then, Alyssa Wolfe, a local 11 year old with cerebral palsy had just gotten word from her doctor that after like 40 surgeries, she would never be able to walk on her own. So her mom said “Okay, what do you want the rest of your life to look like?” And she said, “I want to be a model. I like being in pictures.” So, her mom began trying to find photographers.”

Mollura explained that Alyssa’s mother is a self-admitted tomboy, so she was unsure how to go about helping her daughter. She talked to one of her neighbors, also a photographer, who was familiar with Mollura’s work who was also a photographer too. He told Alyssa’s mother “you should contact John. He does a lot of portraiture and more stuff.”

“Her mom reached out to me last April and we talked about what the shoot would look like,” Mollura said. “We’re gonna do like an outdoor shoot, but then she also needed stuff for a modeling portfolio like with a white background. And I realized I wasn’t going to be able to serve her in my current studio, which was in a historic building on the second floor, So, we took the studio to her essentially and did that and then did a great shoot outdoors. And that was kind of like “okay, God I hear you”. I started looking for a place back in April.”

The first step Mollura took in securing a new studio location was to contact his landlord who told him he had nothing on the first floor and did not expect to have anything in the near future. When he heard that Zack and Marissa King were renovating Penny Square, he decided to reach out to them. Initially, the King’s told him they were only looking for retail in the Shops at Penny Square, so Mollura continued looking.

“Then, Marissa sent me a text out of the blue in September and said “hey, we would like to talk to you about coming into Penny Square if you still need space.” I told them I did,” Mollura said. “When we walked in here, it was open, they had just done the demo so there were no walls or anything. They said “We’d like to offer you the space, we like what you are all about and why you want to move. What do you need? We can custom design it for you.” So, we did all the measurements, worked with them on some of the parameters of the building that they custom designed and it looks amazing.”

According to Mollura, Marissa gave him information on the color palette they were using throughout Penny Square, and it was very similar to the color palette Mollura used in his former studio. His wife did the detailed decorating as he knew what he needed functionally, but his wife added the aesthetics.

“So, now, I am able to serve anybody regardless of whether they need accessibility,” Mollura said. “There are handicapped bathrooms and a street entrance. I currently do not plan to offer any prints of my photographs for sale, even though I have a background in landscape and commercial photography. I do strictly portraits and it has never really come up to sell those portraits.”

Today, Mollura focuses on taking artistic portraits which he can turn into heirloom books. His photography sessions include wardrobe consults, hair and makeup. He guides his subjects through the posing and then he helps choose the best images. Mollura also offers high-end wall art which he will bring to his client’s home and hang for them. He also likes to develop projects that tell stories.

“We are visual creatures,” Mollura said. “We are impacted by visual stuff. Photography has a lot of power to not only evoke emotion when you see it, but I mean think how awesome that album will be or how a printed product will be 20 or 30 years from now, when the kids are grown and some of the people in the photo are no longer here. I try to use photography as a vehicle to help people see themselves differently and by differently, I mean in a more positive light because so many times, I’ll take a photo and it’ll pop up on the screen and someone will be like ‘Oh my God, you made me look so cool.” And I’m like, “that’s you. It came right out of the camera with no editing.” So, to be able to provide prints for people and tangible things they can hold. It’s something that I really like doing and the way I model my business.”

His mother gave Mollura his first camera at the age of seven.

“I wanted a hamster but my mom for some reason bought me a camera. I think my mom knew she would be taking care of the hamster. But she got me a camera,” Mollura said. “So, it always been just a hobby of mine and I turned it into a side hustle back in, I think it was 10 years ago. But my background is I was a test engineer for NASA in military and homeland security projects. And they would send me all over the planet from Antarctica to deserts and I would always have my camera with me. And it was just always a passion of mine. I went through a lot of personal changes for the better and that career just wasn’t a good fit for me after those changes. The company had changed direction and I was becoming less happy in my career. My wife just finally said why don’t you do your photography full time, which is very out of the way as she normally is a total planner, but she believed in me and just said go for it. And that was that was almost six years ago.”

Although it would seem there is very little connection between rocket science and photography, Mollura explained that his previous career has actually benefitted him.

“At NASA, a big part of my job was creating relationships with people because our group was the group that would make sure whatever the thing was worked before it got put on one of our planes, before service members were flying at Mach 5 or landing on Mars,” Mollura said. “Our group was it and we would be sent to these far off places to test these things. And my job would be to obviously make sure we had a plan in place but also develop the relationships to make sure whatever it was happened. Imagine the amount of red tape surrounding it.”

He continued that NASA would drop his team off at some base somewhere and tell them they had two weeks to figure it out.

“So, I became very adept at developing rapport quickly. And that translates very well into photography,” Mollura said. “I used to do a lot of commercial photography. So, you’ve probably bought something off Amazon that I’ve taken a picture of.  I’ve worked with a lot of Fortune 500 companies to do their product photography. Why I was so successful was because that’s usually not very hard to photography, but they have requirements. So, I was used to these checklists and these requirements in my previous career, which is somewhat of a rare trait for people in the creative field. It serves me very well to like have this somewhat rigorous background where I can follow a checklist and they get it you got everything done. I can point to the list and say “its’ on there for me to do. It is not rocket science. I can actually say that.”

Mollura will hold a ribbon cutting and open house on Friday, March 3 starting at 5 PM. The celebration is open to the public and will include live music as well as light refreshments. He is taking appointments at his studio and appointments can be made by calling 302-222-6308 or visit his website at



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