Friday, May 24, 2013

UnBoxed: Jackson Photografix

Lazy bosses often ask their employee's to think 'outside the box'. I used the word lazy, as I think this phrase has been so overused it has pretty much lost it's meaning. Outside the box has now, in it's own way, become boring. In photography and all art for that mater, I don't think really it as important to have every frame unique or original, this is next to impossible. I think what is more important, is that you don't copy yourself. This can be avoided by tapping into the energy of each shoot, location and model and then channelling what comes up in that moment into the final image.

You all know those photographers who shoot every model in the same pose in front of the same background or in the same location. This doesn't mean the final work is bad, sometimes it is amazing! It does mean though, that an entire element of creativity is lost by trying to box a model into a concept. Some models will thrive and the images turn out incredible. Other however won't, which becomes pretty clear to anyone viewing the work.

Although many photographer's have a signature style or shot, only the great ones know how to skillfully make it fit the model, instead of the other way around. There is one famous photographer whom I love, who masterfully shoots strong muscled men, but when faced with a thinner, less buffed up model, struggles to capture other areas of strength of the model. A style is only an asset if it doesn't box you in, when it does, it becomes a liability.


'What I love most about Andre, apart from his hot, tight, compact body, is his willingness to try anything. He is truly fearless. We started our shoot that day with him nude and bending his body into positions that only a contortionist would attempt. While we were creating these beautifully odd figure studies, I remembered he had arrived wearing pink running shoes. I asked him to go put them on so we could incorporate them into the shots. It wasn't long though, once he had them on that our shoot went from abstract to whimsical. How could it not with pink hightops! I had Andre jumping and flying across the studio and this shot of him suspended in air was the result.'
Jackson Photografix

Sometimes what draws me to an artists work is a pattern. Something about the images; a cool location, a specific color scheme, the type of men shot, a theme or concept that draws me. It is usually the pattern that helps guide me with the writing and helps provide a theme for the blog profile. When there is no pattern, as with Jackson's images, finding a flow for text and story is more of a challenge, but one I always welcome and enjoy.


'While living in Edmonton I shot a beautiful hot swimmer from Lethbridge named Craig Davidson. Craig, who was introduced to me through a former model and mutual friend, had never done a photo shoot, let alone an erotic one. His years of competitive swimming gave him an incredible physique, that coupled with his very genuine humbleness made him an exquisite model. As we worked towards shooting him sans clothes, I eased him into it by giving him a white towel (a commonly used prop in many of my shoots) to use and these delicious shots were the result.'
Jackson Photografix

I think the wonderful lack of 'pattern' in Jackson's work stems from a couple of sources. It was in 1997, in Hells Kitchen in New York, that Jackson took a lifelong passion and hobby and translated it into a career. Self Taught, Jackson took not what he had learned, but instead, what he knew and had experienced. He then applied it to one of his first professional jobs as a photographer, shooting the Pride cover and centerfold for a culture and nightlife magazine called Shout. The way in which Jackson approached his work with models Andre and Craig is a great example of how he creates such diverse imagery. The results from these two particular shoots are extremely different both visually and in tone and feel.


I think another reason pattern fail to stick in Jackson's work is that the Canadian based photographer doesn't just have one home base or location to shoot, instead, he has many throughout North America. When going through Jackson's blog in search of images, the photos, models and locations were taken in locations throughout Canada, the US and Mexico. Jackson spent several months working in Mexico last year and in each of the shots, whether taken in Puerto Vallarta, Queretaro, Mazatlan, Guadalajara or Mexico City, elements of each specific location, and the models who lived there, filtered into the final images.

In addition to New York magazines and newspapers such as Next Magazine, TimeOut NY, Where Magazine, The Blade, and the now defunct HX. Jackson's artwork was seen in exhibition everywhere from Leslie Lohman Gallery to the Golin+Harris shows at the Chrysler Building. During his time in New York City, his imagery was frequently various art exhibitions that he also curated in Chelsea with a series entitled "Well Hung" His work has also been seen throughout North America at festivals including The Seattle Erotic Arts Festival, The Works Visual Arts Festival and Exposure Festival both of Edmonton, the Erotic Signature's ArtUndressed Tours which travelled from Miami, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Montreal and Berlin.


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