Emma Jackson has an eye for photographing others
Emma Jackson enjoys being a photographer. Her main subjects are people. Through her photos, we are able to see people conducting their daily activities.
What got you interested in photography?
My foray into photography actually began with making film. My father seemingly recorded every moment of our childhood on his camera and by middle school, I was “borrowing” it to make short films as a creative outlet. It wasn’t until my first trip abroad, the summer before 8th grade, that I discovered my love of still photography. After much begging, my father let me take his old Canon DSLR (which I had absolutely no idea how to use) on a school trip to Italy and Greece. I thought I would use it to record video, but I soon realized that there was something extraordinary about capturing a moment in time. I was fascinated with the way light and shadow could tell a story within a single frame. In one fell swoop, I was hooked on both travel and photography.
What are your favorite things to take photos of?
Hands down, my favorite subject is people. In the Instagram age we live in, you can take the same photo of a waterfall a hundred times over. Perhaps it’ll be beautiful every time, but what will have changed? With a person, however, you could take a thousand photos and none of them would be the same. I’m not talking about posed photography; I mean capturing a real person amidst their everyday life. I find it incredible that seemingly mundane actions can become exquisite works of art.
What, in your opinion, are the essentials that craft a good photo?
Light, shadow, and space provide the foundation for every good photo. However, I find the intention to be just as important. Photographers have the ability to craft an image and shift perspectives about their subject. It’s a powerful position, make no mistake. I think that it is necessary for a photographer to be aware of their intentions before embarking on a project. With documentary photography, in particular, I have to check my opinions at the door and let the story unfold on its own. I do my best to give the subjects back some of that power, while understanding that ultimately, the final product is still my interpretation.
What are the things you want to take photos of that you haven’t had the opportunity to capture?
I am deeply interested in street photography- the art of catching someone unawares. I find that I am drawn to the works of Henri Cartier-Bresson and Vivian Maier for that same reason. Their photographs seem to both transcend time and yet capture the spirit of a moment. That being said, street photography can be intrusive and in some cases, unethical. At the very least, it takes courage to snap a photo of someone without their permission (I find it’s best to ask permission after the fact).
What are some motivations that keep you going?
The desire to create is a major driving force in my life. I’ve only recently become aware of how essential this is to my happiness. My creative spirit is like a fire; when well-tended it burns long and bright, providing motivation to all other aspects of my life. Additionally, I am motivated by the possibility of using my creative talent to provide for my family. Nothing would make me happier.
What is it like working on a blog?
Honestly, I dreaded starting the project. The internet is oversaturated with bloggers that I didn’t know where to begin. I thought if I didn’t produce “perfect” content it would be a waste of time. My father was always a gifted writer and I think that I was terrified I’d never measure up. The reason I finally started a blog was to tell my story, as much for myself as for anyone else. A few months ago I started captioning my Instagram posts with some of my real thoughts rather than shallow and catchy phrases. I was amazed at the response. Many people messaged me, letting me know how much my words meant to them. Soon enough I had requests to start a blog and tell my story. I think that everyone is sick and tired of the perfectly curated lives that are pervasive on social media today. Instead, people are craving the imperfect truth- that, I can deliver.
Are there any future plans?
There are so many! I recently moved back from New York City to my hometown (a small town in Kentucky) to take over my family’s advertising agency. Running an agency at 23 is no joke and has not been without its fair share of challenges. The opportunity, as I choose to see it, came out of an intensely personal tragedy that I am still coping with. Yet, as I discuss in my blog, I finally think I’m on course to lead the life I’ve always dreamed of. Future plans include scaling the business, making it location independent (hello long-term travel!), and continuing to tell authentic, empowering stories.