In Conversation: David Jackson

Cynthia Haynes

David Jackson is an award-winning advertising, commercial and entertainment photographer hailing from the Midwest. In 2007, he left his full-time job of 14 years as a police officer to pursue a career as a photographer and to maintain his life's priority as a devoted husband and father to three little girls. David’s client list includes network television, record companies, Fortune 500 companies, magazines and advertising agencies such as: HBO, Comcast/Xfinity, Mazda, Walmart, Weight Watchers, KonLive Records, Eleven Seven Music, Razor & Tie, GMR Marketing and Pace Communications; the various magazines include Inc., Alternative Press, Revolver, Metal Hammer, Kerrang!, American Craft, Mazda’s Zoom Zoom magazine and Inked. You can check out his work at

How long have you been behind the camera and what made you first pick one up?

I’ve been shooting since 1999, but photography has been my full-time gig since 2007. I started shooting bands at local concerts with disposable point-and-shoot 35mm cameras. And I sucked, like really bad. I was a huge music nerd and couldn’t wrap my head around why my photos looked so terrible and others were awesome. There was sort of turning point where I dove headlong into learning everything I could about photography. I joined online forums, read books, picked up magazines and pasted photos to my wall: anything and everything.

Over the course of a few years, I happened upon a few photographers that I really looked up to and admired including Brandon Merkel, Zack Arias, James Davis, Cary Norton, and Jeremy Weiss. It kind of pissed me off that these guys were so damn good. I befriended some of these photographers on a 2005 internet forum called “The Paper Brigade,” and we eventually became both colleagues and close friends.

You worked as a police officer in your past life; do you find that there is anything from that discipline that works for—or against—you in your photography career?

Definitely! It has helped me in many ways, really. Most importantly, I learned to talk to people and build relationships quickly. It’s not too often I need to defend myself on photo shoots, but the whole verbal judo thing works like a charm. That, and having patience with people, is direly important. There have been a few times on shoots where exercising patience has been a key in ensuring the job gets done effectively and to the client’s satisfaction.

The photographs featured in this post are from your “Simple+Dirty” collection; what was your creative process behind this concept? 

Essentially, my SIMPLE+DIRTY series is on an indefinite hiatus since 2011 given my current client workload and the pace of my family (my wife and I have three little girls), not to mention doing this type of photography work is extremely dangerous! With that being said, when I was shooting it, I fell in love with these places. I firmly believe in the idea that beauty and light can be found everywhere, even in the darkest places of our lives. I find locations like these rather intriguing, not entirely for the history, but for their visual intrigue. More so than anything else, this series is a study of light, lines and symmetry (odd how those math classes are actually useful some day).

Being in abandoned places can evoke a certain sadness over what once was; have there been any emotional surprises for you along the way? 

Ever since I was a kid, I have been fascinated with abandoned buildings. Perhaps it's the eeriness of theses places, the haunting stories they tell, the smells, or even the uncomfortable surroundings. Oddly enough, I've never truly felt comfortable shooting this stuff, but most of what I shoot is within the quiet charms of rural Wisconsin farmland. Even though the structural hazards are present, our local communities are relatively safe to shoot in. With that comes the idea that documenting a decaying building is documenting change, much the same as every person goes through change in a lifetime. Change is not to be feared, but embraced.

None of your photographs are in black and white; is there a reason that you chose colour for this series, despite the obvious lack of life in these places?

I’ve always been driven by colour, especially in these environments. The colour palettes in the '50s, '60s and '70s were ridiculous. Aside from looking at this series as a study of lines and light, I find that colour is a huge factor when pairing images together in a series. By gravitating toward vibrant colours, these entire scenes take on a life of their own.

If you owned only one camera and one lens, what would they be and why?

Canon 1DX and a 24-70mm. Why? Because that combination alone practically cost me as much as a car. And I hate buying new gear unless I absolutely have to! For me, it’s about the product, not the gear. However, I think the only other choice above and beyond the 1DX is a medium format system, which I would love to have. The 1DX is fast, focuses unlike any other Canon before it and is durable in adverse environments. That said, the majority of my SIMPLE+DIRTY series was actually shot on a Canon 1D Mark III. I love the colours that came off that sensor!



← Older Post Newer Post →

Leave a comment

  1. Understanding The Stages
  2. Conceptually Speaking: A Word With Claire Rosen
  3. Best Places
  4. Thinking Less Literally
  5. Vision Is Better, Ep. 63
  6. An Iconic Photograph, or a Photographed Icon?
  7. Thinking in Monochrome
  8. Vision Is Better, Ep.62
  9. Vision Is Better, Ep.61
  10. Making the Image: Kathleen Clemons
  11. Night Ranger: A Word With David Kingham
  12. Understanding the Night Sky
  13. Vision Is Better, Ep.60
  14. The Value of Critique
  15. Capturing the Moment
  16. Vision Is Better, Ep.59
  17. Five Key Elements of Food Photography
  18. Using Flash That Doesn't Look Lit
  19. Vision Is Better, Ep.58
  20. Using Flash To Improve Your Photographs
  21. Five Tips for Using Off-Camera Flash
  22. Vision Is Better, Ep.57
  23. Finding Critics
  24. Street Life: A Word With Libby Holmsen
  25. Using the Frame
  26. The Photographer's Tools
  27. Backlight: The Art of Silhouettes
  28. Vision Is Better, Ep.56
  29. Understanding Perspective
  30. Vision Is Better, Ep.55
  31. In Conversation: Sharon Covert
  32. Create Projects + Collaborate
  33. Mirrors or Windows?
  34. 2018 Mentor Series Workshop: Varanasi, India
  35. F/ The Rules
  36. Drawing the Eye With Selective Focus
  37. In Conversation: Willem Wernsen
  38. Exposing for Highlights
  39. Using Fill Light to Create Dramatic Portraits
  40. Cameras Don't Make Photographs
  41. Shooting with Your Final Image in Mind
  42. 10 Ways to Make Better Black and White Photographs
  43. 2018 Maasai Mara Photographic Safari
  44. 2018 Mentor Series Workshop: Lalibela, Ethiopia
  45. Start With the Corners
  46. Creating Painterly Images with Movement and Multiple Exposures
  47. Using the Guided Upright Tool in Lightroom
  48. The Power of Photographing Icons
  49. In Conversation: Susan Burnstine (Part II)
  50. In Conversation: Susan Burnstine (Part I)
  51. Controlling Your Edit with Lightroom's Tone Curve
  52. Making the Image: David duChemin
  53. 3 Ways to Make More Honest Portraits
  54. The Adjective-Driven Approach to Photography
  55. In Conversation: Oded Wagenstein
  56. Making the Zone System Work for You
  57. Ten (More) Ways to Improve Your Craft
  58. Reference View: A New Way to See in the Lightroom Develop Module
  59. In Conversation: Laurent Breillat
  60. The Best 3 Filters for Landscape Photography
  61. Creating Classical Portraits with Simple Lighting
  62. Photographic Processing and Believability
  63. Visual Storytelling: An Introduction
  64. Making the Image: Piet Van den Eynde
  65. In Conversation: Satoki Nagata
  66. Use Repeating Elements for Stronger Images
  67. In Conversation: Kate Densmore
  68. One (More) Reason To Use Adobe's Creative Cloud
  69. Three Ways to Use Backlight
  70. 2017 Rome Mentor Series Workshop
  71. 2017 Venice Mentor Series Workshops
  72. Controlling Foreground to Background Presence
  73. Making the Image: David Adam Edelstein
  74. In Conversation: David Adam Edelstein
  75. Using Contrast for Stronger Images
  76. Three Ways to Make Better Portraits
  77. How to Direct the Eye in Your Photographs
  78. How to Improve Your Street Photography
  79. In Conversation: Piet Van den Eynde
  80. Starting Your Next Personal Project
  81. Five (More) Creative Exercises to Improve Your Photography
  82. Five Creative Exercises to Improve Your Photography
  83. Three (More) Ways To Discover Your Vision
  84. Four Ways to Discover Your Vision (Part I)
  85. Three Ways to Make Stronger Black & White Images in Lightroom
  86. In Conversation: Cristina Mittermeier
  87. How to Add Mood to Infrared (and other) Photographs
  88. In Conversation: Paul Nicklen
  89. Four Ways to Tell Stronger Stories
  90. In Conversation: John Paul Caponigro
  91. Master the Art of Seeing and Improve Your Photography
  92. Adding Light with the Radial Filter in Lightroom
  93. The Power of Abstraction
  94. In Conversation: Anja Büehrer
  95. Five Ways to Add More Depth to Your Portraits
  96. Four Ways to Make Stronger Travel Photographs
  97. In Conversation: Martin Bailey
  98. Learn to Isolate
  99. Gear Is Good
  100. In Conversation: Dave Brosha
  101. For the Love of Your Photographs
  102. Working with Target Collections in Lightroom
  103. Review: Epson P800
  104. Seeing: Receptive & Observant
  105. Better Questions
  106. Siri? Ask Lightroom!
  107. Wake Up.
  108. In Conversation: David Jackson
  109. Photographic Skills: Patience
  110. In Conversation: David duChemin
  111. 2017 Jodhpur Mentoring Workshop
  112. 2017 Maasai Mara Safari
  113. Rome 2016 Mentoring Workshop
  114. Florence 2016 Mentoring Workshop
  115. Venice 2016 Mentoring Workshop
  116. Vision Is Better, Ep.54
  117. Vision Is Better, Ep.53
  118. Vision Is Better, Ep.52
  119. Vision Is Better, Ep.51
  120. Vision Is Better, Ep.50
  121. Vision Is Better, Ep.49
  122. Vision Is Better, Ep.48
  123. Vision Is Better, Ep.47
  124. Vision Is Better, Ep.46
  125. Vision Is Better, Ep.45
  126. Vision Is Better, Ep.44
  127. Vision Is Better, Ep.43
  128. Vision Is Better, Ep.42
  129. Vision Is Better, Ep.41
  130. Vision Is Better, Ep.40
  131. Vision Is Better, Ep.39
  132. Vision Is Better, Ep.38
  133. Vision Is Better, Ep.37
  134. Vision Is Better, Ep.36
  135. Vision Is Better, Ep.35
  136. Vision Is Better, Ep.34
  137. Vision Is Better, Ep.33
  138. Vision Is Better, Ep.32
  139. Vision Is Better, Ep.31
  140. Vision Is Better, Ep.30
  141. Vision Is Better, Ep.29
  142. Vision Is Better, Ep.28
  143. Vision Is Better, Ep.27
  144. Vision Is Better, Ep.26
  145. Vision Is Better, Ep.25
  146. Vision Is Better, Ep.24
  147. Vision Is Better, Ep.23
  148. Vision is Better, Ep.22
  149. Vision is Better, Ep.21
  150. Vision is Better, Ep.20
  151. Vision is Better, Ep.19
  152. Vision is Better, Ep.18
  153. Vision is Better, Ep.17
  154. Vision is Better, Ep.16
  155. Vision is Better, Ep.15
  156. Vision Is Better, Ep.11
  157. Vision Is Better, Ep.10
  158. Vision Is Better, Ep.09
  159. Vision Is Better, Ep.08
  160. Vision Is Better, Ep.07
  161. Vision Is Better, Ep.06
  162. Vision Is Better, Ep.05
  163. Vision Is Better, Ep.04
  164. Vision Is Better, Ep.03
  165. Vision Is Better, Ep.02
  166. Vision Is Better, Ep.01

Related Articles

Related Resources

Adam Blasberg Adobe Alexandre Buisse Andrew S. Gibson Andy Biggs Anja Büehrer Bret Edge Bruce Percy Claire Rosen Craft & Technique Creative Cloud Creativity Cristina Mittermeier Dave Brosha David Adam Edelstein David duChemin David Kingham Duncan Fawkes Guy Tal Henry Fernando Interview Jason Bradley John Paul Caponigro Kate Densmore Kathleen Clemons Laurent Breillat Libby Holmsen Lightroom & Photoshop Making the Image Martin Bailey Michael Frye Nathan Wirth Natural Light Oded Wagenstein Paul Nicklen Piet Van den Eynde Podcast Project Nimbus Rafael Rojas Satoki Nagata Sean McCormack Sharon Covert Sherri Koop Simi Jois Street Photography Susan Burnstine Vision is Better Show visual storytelling Willem Wernsen Workshop Younes Bounhar Zone System