Frank Jackson

Frank Jackson

Member, Freestyle Advisory Board of Photographic Professionals


Frank Jackson was born to be a photographer. The first time he picked up a camera at the age of 15, he realized that he could capture things that most of us don't see. As a teenager he trained himself in the fundamentals of photography, developing a subtle, simple and unique technique that would mature into a distinctive style. His remarkable understanding of light, form, tone and the photographic medium would shape the course of his life.

Frank Jackson was born in 1956 in Jacksonville, Florida. In 1959 he moved with his family to California, living in Sacramento and Oakland, before finally settling in Los Angeles. At the age of 18 he left to go to Oakwood University, the same college in Alabama that his parents had attended. Despite pressure to pursue a traditional profession, Jackson left after only one year to follow his dream of becoming a photographer. His ambition led him to New York where he obtained his first paying photography job. As Jackson explains at the age of 19 he was "dumb as a brick, but knew how to take a picture."

A year later he returned to Los Angeles to live with his father in Lynwood,CA. He acquired a job with IBM that provided him with a flow of money, enabling him to buy "bigger and better cameras." During his twenties Jackson was constantly training and teaching himself about the art, until at the age of 29 he became a corporate photographer - a job that took him around the world. By 1989 Jackson left the job to pursue the freedom he craved, to live in a world of images and captured moments that speak volumes about our environments, lives, relationships and values. His photography focuses on beauty and aesthetics, but his images are also imbued with lyrical messages and a personal philosophy. Photography for Jackson articulates possibilities:

"I'm people
you did not know you knew.
pictures you see with closed eyes.
a memory you don't recall.
something you said you would never do.
places you said you won't go.

Jackson's work ultimately reflects his philosophy. He explains "my work is not about race or color, it's about many things. People feel comfortable "placing" people in categories, to be able to say 'I know who you are.' And when you constantly surprise people they either appreciate it or find it unnerving."

Rather than expressing political beliefs through his work, Jackson advocates social change on a personal level. His series, 'The Pursuit of Balance,' from which some of the exhibition's images are taken, resonates deeply with the individual psyche.

Jackson explains that "pursuit of balance" is a simple general philosophy. It's about fixing yourself. It's like calibrating a compass; once you've calibrated for North, east is east and west is west; it can't be anything else. Once you get yourself calibrated, nobody can tell you what is or is not straight. Even though the world is always moving and spinning and you don't have control over it, you have some control over yourself. You learn to roll with the world, to keep your balance every time that world shifts.

"Sometimes I happen to pictures and sometimes pictures happen to me. We sort of flow between each other like people who dance together for a long time." - Frank Jackson