Frank Jackson

Frank Jackson is a street photographer in New York that pays particular attention to use of lighting to draw in attention to the object or person in focus, there is a mood that is created from the light and this isn’t done in an elaborate way all the time, he often uses a simple additional light that he takes everywhere with him. Jackson hopes to create a story through the way that the photograph is taken and it is aided by the lighting.

He also likes to photograph objects that are not normally noticed by humans. The project that I will be focusing one that he had been working on for 20 years. This is when he photographed used cups of coffee. He did this to show human existence without actually showing the people consuming the beverages. He photographs lots of things that people would not always notice or pay attentions to. Many would not think about their cup after finishing their drink. I think that Frank Jackson thinks that the way that the cups are left show identity as there are lots of different ways that the drinks can be left and there can be a lot of things that can go with the drinks such as sugar and their wrappers and also spoons or stirrers.

As Jackson works mainly in black and white he must need to pay a lot of attention to the tones and shadows within the frame. This is an important skill that people who are interested in black and white photography need to be good at noticing before even taking the photograph. It is good for the photographer to be able to visualise the photograph in black and white without taking a photograph first. In an interview Jackson mentions how black and white photography helped him to become good with colour so this influenced his colour photography.

Here is a quote from an interview that I looked at which was quite helpful:

“Is there a philosophy, concept or aesthetic behind your compositions that you apply to your photos? I learned photography by getting consistent exposure. Consistency is everything. I believe in not having anything in a picture that is a highlight that is so blown out that takes your eye away from it. Make sure there are small details. You  should not be able to tell a digital or film shot.”

I felt that this also applied to me as I am a student:

“What’s the biggest mistake that all photography students make? How can they correct it? (Frank added this question.) They cut corners- they are usually happy with the pictures they have taken right away. Some don’t take the time to know their camera and they fumble their way. To correct it- take the time to shoot a lot of pictures. For example, my shot of the skateboarder: I shot the same spot and got several types of light.  You need to put in the time.”

Jackson finds it important to make sure that a series tells a story. I am glad that I read this because I feel that in some projects that I have done so far, there hasn’t been a story as such, more that there was a link with all of the images.

This photograph drew in my attention most. The photograph appears to be taken of the back half of a car which has a cup of tea left on top of it. This is something that really isn’t paid attention to in everyday life. However the cup looks quite delicate left on the slanted position, it looks as if the person who left it would have had to balance the cup carefully to keep it in place. The car does not look completely clean, so this has a lot of character behind it. There appears to be dead parts of a tea which has fallen onto the car and has not been cleaned away. Across the side there is a lot of specks of dirt across the side which breaks away from the white of the car.

The car is quite linear and this is enhanced throughout the lighting. The lighting appears to be coming from above as there is a shadow below a ridge that sticks out. This could be from a window or could be additional lighting although I know that this is unlikely because Jackson does not like to use too much additional lighting.

The word “Dart” is marked on the side of the car as the car is a Daimler Dart car, because of the lighting, at the bottom of the word it is not completely clear so the attention is drawn to the word a lot more to try to recognise what the word is.

The fact that there is some black space to the right of the scene really contrasts with the rest of the image which has more highlights. This makes the image a lot more powerful as having an image with a lot of highlights would not be as interesting.

The thing that really sets off the image is the cup on top of the car. This is an unusual object to be left on top of the car and because of this does draw in attention. The cup is from what appears to be from the right and above which matches where the light is hitting on the car. There is also a reflection of light from the spoon which is resting on the saucer. The reflection of light hits the middle of the cup which directs attention in to the image further.

The rule of thirds has been used in this image, the car ends on one third vertically and then horizontally there appears to be lines just below the bottom third and then one at the top also.

Screen Shot 2014-12-04 at 16.30.31

Jackson has shown how important the lighting is and this can really funnel in viewers attention and it is also a good tool for holding attention. I want to really make sure that I get the lighting right at each place that I photograph because using a high quality camera such as the Phase One camera can really help get an impressive print and the lighting can also help that.

Jackson, F. (2014). fotographz is Frank Jackson. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2014].

Liker, L. (2012). # 14 FRANK JACKSON, Los Angeles Street Photographer. [online] Leica Liker. Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2014].

LED, F. (2014). Taking pictures of used coffee cups all around the world for over 20 years by Street photographer Frank Jackson | ISO 1200 Magazine | Photography Video blog for photographers. [online] Available at: [Accessed 3 Dec. 2014].


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