“It’s incredible just how much Flickr has impacted me as a photographer,” says high school student Jackson Stack, known on Flickr as Jacksonian22.
“It’s changed my life.” he tells The Weekly Flickr in this week’s episode. “I basically got my college education for free thanks to my Flickr community.”
Jackson describes his photography as emotive and dark. He’s drawn to conceptual photography because he says it allows him to express himself more artistically compared to other mediums of photography.
“I truly believe photography is the visual documentation of life,” he says. “When I go out on shoots, I really like to experiment with different concepts and try to incorporate emotions and atmosphere into my pictures.”
Jackson first joined Flickr in 2010 and used it mainly to post pictures from his photography class. He called himself “an amateur at best”, taking photos with black and white film. However his passion quickly evolved when he began a 365 project and received positive feedback from Flickr users.
A lot of the advice he received dealt with the colors and themes of his photos and how to work with the technical aspects of editing.
“I really didn’t know much before I joined Flickr,” says Jackson. “But I saw all these people who posted these incredible photos with beautiful colors and tones. I really wanted to emulate their style and everyone really helped me to get to that point.”
More importantly, Jackson was inspired by the different concepts and themes he came across.
“It was so inspiring to me to see people who put their emotions out there in such a raw way with their photos,” Jackson says. “It really helped me to be more adventurous with my photography.”
By the time Jackson ended his 365, he felt he had truly grown as a photographer – especially after posting this picture, Finding Lost Ground.
“I finally understood how much photography meant to me,” he says. “I realized it’s my passion, it’s what I want to do, and I decided I was going to apply to school for photography.”
Jackson had his sights set on Cooper Union School of Art – a prestigious school that only accepts 65 applicants nationwide with each applicant receiving a full tuition scholarship. Jackson put his heart and soul into their home test.
The prompt he chose asked him to create a series defining an object of varying weight. After careful thought and reflection on his work, Jackson decided to depict emotional weight.
“All my years on Flickr inspired me because it helped me with self portraiture,” Jackson says. “I had been immersed in conceptual photography for so long that I knew I could make something incredible. Once I came to that decision, everything else just fell into place.”
One of his favorite photos from his Cooper Union home test is called, Adulthood. The photo depicted the end of the series, which is the the final representation of all this compounded emotional weight. He took three separate photos, composited and edited them together resulting in one beautiful shot.
After spending a month on his prompt, Jackson was extremely proud of his final work. However that feeling couldn’t compare to the moment he received his acceptance letter to Cooper Union.
“It was best moment of my life,” he says. “And it wouldn’t have happened without my Flickr community. It was their help and inspiration to pursue my photography that lead me here. I’m living proof that if you put in the time, hard work and dedication – dreams do come true.”
Jackson’s advice to other young photographers: “Never give up. If you work at it continually and give it your all, you will get better and find your passion. Once you have that, you can go anywhere with it.”
Visit Jackson’s photostream for more of his photography.