Dave who?

As humbling as it is to be here, I can’t wrap my head around the fact that I have been asked to be a guest blogger on Scott’s site. It’s an honor to have this opportunity and be the little guy standing in line next to such ‘big leaguers’ as Jeremy Cowart, Joey L, David Hobby, Drew Gardner, Zack Arias, David duChemin, Joe McNally and so many others I look up to. Needless to say I have some big shoes to fill. It goes without saying, I’m truly grateful to be here. I really am.

Some people may ask themselves, ‘Who the heck is David Jackson?’ In fact, it’s a question I’ve been asking myself for a long time. Well, I’m just a regular dude from a small town in Wisconsin, who pays his bills with a camera, trying my best to make a living for my family. You see, I haven’t spent time on speaking circuits or been featured at international trade shows. I don’t have a timeless success story to share, a marketing tip or harrowing tale from behind the camera. I don’t have a lengthy client list riddled with celebrities and acclaimed publications. Heck, I’ve barely made a name for myself in the creative industry. Who I am however, is an emerging photographer struggling to have my voice heard over the roar of a very intimidating crowd. I’m standing in line to get on the roller coaster of my career and I need to find a seat before they’re all spoken for.

A few years ago a friend of mine called me out; He told me it seemed like I was merely passing time, using my wedding work as a stepping-stone to move into the area of photography that really tugs at my heartstrings. At the time, he knew I hadn’t fully come to terms with who I am as a photographer. He was right. I took those words to heart. There is an honest importance of defining who we are within one encompassing term.

During the past year I felt as if my direction was lost in an abyss of mix-matched client work and new attempts at finding my voice. I had spent so much time searching for my style, that I never allowed it to find me. A few months ago, we went to our trusty grease board at the studio and spent several hours digging into the guts of who I am artistically. You know, my identity. In doing so, we needed to examine my growing body of work, strip everything away to the roots and take a closer look at what I really want to shoot and where I fit into the bigger picture.

It was initially awkward to look at it from that standpoint, but it was right there before my eyes the whole time. Although my foundation is planted in weddings and senior class portraits, I could no longer deny my strengths only to end up getting lost on the path leading back to myself. It occurred to me; I’m an editorial portrait photographer.

I think that when we can connect with what inspires us at ground level, we can begin to overcome this inward anxiety of second-guessing our identity as a creative. When we begin to refine our personal direction as a creative person, we are presented with an opportunity to choose the right path to our career destination. I’ve finally arrived at a point where I can acknowledge all this and step out with an identity.

Where I’m at now, is finding myself working hard to begin transitioning into the editorial and advertising market and away from the body of work that has defined me up to this point. I have finally come to know the value of my craft and my voice as a photographer. I can see I have talent and I know it has its place. But for the longest time I wasn’t able to fully acknowledge that and take it to heart. My initial self-doubts have always driven me crazy. In days past, it’s plagued me like a burden of guilt. Not because I feel like a ‘hack’, but as a result of looking out into the sea of my peers across the nation and wondering ‘where the heck do I fit in to this mess and how can my voice get heard?’ We all have this natural tendency, don’t we?

I look at all these highly respected and talented photographers out there who are given the chance to let their vision stand on it’s own, grabbing work that speaks to their identity. These folks are out there, doing their thing and doing it on a much larger scale than me. It’s intimidating to look at from the outside, knowing I want to try to fit into their shoes. It’s like standing at the base of a mountain, looking up and determining the best route to reach the summit. Daunting, to say the least.

If you look at my place in the greater editorial photography market, I’m just one small fish in a large sea. It’s overwhelming, as I’m only starting to put myself out there. I have to start small, here in my community. Sure, over time I’ll grow. No matter how I look at it though, now is the time for me to put my strongest foot forward and seize new opportunities based on my talent. I’m faced with lots of hard work, personal sacrifices and many failures in order to re-invent myself. But I remain resilient and am ready to take on this new challenge with open arms.

As long as I stay true to myself, I will get one step closer to reaching my goals. If I let my work speak for itself and take a front row seat in my career, the pieces will eventually fall into place. The future lies within myself, the decisions I make and the courage to remain persistent.

Regardless of the fact that I hail from a small Wisconsin town, I still have to compete with all those high-profile editorial shooters from LA and NYC. I view it not as a struggle, but as a challenge. I need to be able to make my small voice heard loud enough, so that the west coast and east coast can feel the vibration.

~dave

You can view more of David’s work at DavidEJackson.com, keep up with him on his blog, follow him on Twitter, and be his friend on Facebook

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49 Comments

  1. Chalk one up for the regular dudes!
    Kat

  2. Superb stuff!

    Dave is someone I take alot of inspiration from; not just in his photography but in his life balance and never forgetting his priorities.

    Having chatted with Dave at length, I can honestly say he’s one of the ‘goof guys’ with a real love of sharing his knowledge and helping others to improve their craft.

    Great to finally see him here as a Guest Blogger.

    Glyn

  3. It wasn’t until I got to the last set of photos until I realised I’d seen David’s work before. I saw the circus shoot on fstoppers a while back and loved it.

    Nice to see some of your other work David. Keep it up, hopefully one day I’ll be have as good as you are.

  4. Dave,

    Glad to see this article show up and your passion in word matches your passion in photography. As always, love what you have to say.

    Hope all is well,
    Brian

  5. Sick work my friend! I really dig your style

  6. Plain, simple, amazing. Your concept shots always impress me…

    The shoot for halloween is just fantastic!

    I wish you luck. You rock.

  7. Wow David…. Your body of work is equally as impressive as your attitude. You truly are an inspiration, I have no doubt you will do great things.

    Keep it up,
    Alex

  8. Dave is one of those people that deserves everything that is coming his direction. He has worked his arss off for a long time to be here now. His vision is truly inspiring. He has the ability to capture a moment whether it be a portrait or editorial and nail it as is with no super human photoshop secret magic bullet tricks. Dave I applaud you and I thank you…

    -k-

  9. If you don’t know the backstory to David becoming a photographer, read his blog. It is inspiring and he took a HUGE leap of faith abandoning a steady career to become a full time photographer.

    http://www.davidejackson.com/blog/2007/12/18/life-changes-sometimes-part-i/

  10. Great post Dave! I have been following your work for a while and your images are truly amazing and influential in my work as well. The thing that is most inspiring is you humble but driven attitude towards you dreams. Keep up the great work you have worked har to get here and this next step is just another challenge for you. Life wouldn’t be interesting if we didn’t have challenges to work through.

  11. Beautifully lit set of images – and distinctive. I hear what you say David and can so identify with it. I feel that I am on that journey of discovery myself.

  12. Great post David……I really like your “stuff”. Your photos make you think, visually and mentally. I’m a big fan or your Simple + Dirty section. Keep up the good work.

  13. Dave, I don’t understand why you would doubt yourself, you look like the perfect axe murder in your self portrait. LOL

    My suggestion is get featured on a more well known blog that gets read industry wide instead of this Scott guy, I don’t think anyone has ever heard of him.

    But seriously, its great to hear that there are others who love what we do and struggle to find that inter-voice in our work. I of all people know they are cliches but half the battle is getting up and putting one foot in front of the other every day.

    A quote that reminds me of what it takes is by all people Bill Cosby.
    “In order to succeed, your desire for success should be greater than your fear of failure.”

    Keep shooting and keep sharing. Remember your struggle and success can be the inspiration for others.

  14. Dave:

    A really terrific guest blog today. I was not familiar with your work before, but I will certainly follow you now. Excellent images and words that you took the time to share with us. Keep following your path up that mountain!

    –John

  15. I am honored to call Dave a friend. His work and his spirit are truly inspirational. Congratulations, Dave!

  16. “My initial self-doubts have always driven me crazy. In days past, it’s plagued me like a burden of guilt. Not because I feel like a ‘hack’, but as a result of looking out into the sea of my peers across the nation and wondering ‘where the heck do I fit in to this mess and how can my voice get heard?’”

    Dave (great name ;-)

    This just rang so true to me.
    I feel exactly the same way.
    Thank you for sharing something so personal.

    Beautiful work, by the way!

    Your new fan,

    Dave Cuerdon

  17. Great pictures! Good lighting! Excellent ideas! Non-ridiculous use of HDR! Bravo!

  18. Although I’ve been shooting for a few years now I feel like I’m finally beginning to find myself or at least zero in on who I want to be. A large part of that process has been finding people in the industry to look up to both personally and photographically. It’s harder than it should be to find those that are great photographers and also willing to share their own experience so openly. I thank you for being both. You’re a real inspiration!

  19. So if you are worried about getting a seat on the roller coaster I must be worried about getting a ticket to enter the theme park. I wonder if you ever stop feeling like this though, I think even the top top people need some inspiration and room for growth. Possibly there are just some bigger roller coasters? ;-)

    Great post though. I take serious inspiration from these guest blogs.

  20. Hey Dave,
    Congrats on the Guest post! Props to Scott for giving a voice to a “small fish”. I’m going through what you were/are going through. I’ve been at this for 20 years now and am coming to terms with some “truths” about me as a photographer and all the things I’ve done wrong including who am I and what type of photog am I. I’ve watched your career with interest looking for things in your growth that will help me on my path. Thanks. Bryan

  21. Thanks for having Dave on, Scott. He is one of my all-time favorite photographers!

    I love his use of shadows. He provides such great drama without having a negative / heavy feel.

    Love it.

  22. Beautiful post, beautiful work. Thanks Scott for letting Dave share, absolutely love it.

  23. David… Have been a big fan of your work, congratulations on the making/earning it to “Kelby’s GBW” keep it up!

  24. Awesome!

    I am so glad to see Dave on here. I was just looking at Dave’s new site last night and his new work is great.

    I relate to Dave so well. Like Dave I prefer an editorial style of photography and like Dave I’m from a small town (though I’m in the south), and like Dave I often question what am I doing here in the mist of the Cowarts, McNallys, Arias, and others.

    Dave if you ever read this and you find yourself heading towards the southeast give me a shout.

    This is without a doubt one of my favorite blogs on here to date. Probably because it is exactly where I am in my career and work. Thanks to Dave for sharing, thank you Scott for opening your blog to those who don’t always have a big name.

  25. Great post, Dave! Really nice work and living in the sticks of SC myself I feel your struggle!

  26. I had actually seen some of David Jackson’s stuff before when our videographer showed it to me and was blown away. It’s rare you see some of the darkness and hilarity of some of these images pulled off so well without being cliche. Also, he has a fantastic beard.

  27. I’m just a little ‘minnow’ in the sea of photographers whose work stands out far above mine. Glad to read your personal feelings of where you have been and where you want to go. Thanks for sharing with all of us. I like this quote from you:

    “If I let my work speak for itself and take a front row seat in my career, the pieces will eventually fall into place. The future lies within myself, the decisions I make and the courage to remain persistent.”

  28. I love your pics! You wanted to be great and now you r among them, hahah that’s a great “tale from behind the camera” man!

    See you

  29. A very good read indeed! I like your style a lot, it doesn´t take the same path as so many else.
    Thank you for putting yourself out there in the ever so deep sea.

  30. I’ve always enjoyed your work so much, and it’s awesome to see you here! Good luck to you and your new future, I think you’re certainly starting things off right. :)

  31. David,

    I wrote on here earlier complimenting your work. I hadn’t yet, even read the article. After reading, I must say that I’m also impressed by your resilience and the wording of your blogpost in general. Very nice work man, glad you got a chance to do a guest blog for Scott. I’m sure this will open some doors for you. I know exactly how you feel

  32. I’ve never posted on here before, although I read it every day. This guest blog made me post. Truly inspiring words with the images to back it up. I’m really glad you were asked to post.

  33. Thanks Scott for inviting David onto your blog. Very down to earth but a real inspiration. I really like his outstanding work. It’s great that he found his ‘identity’. I can relate to the self doubt bit.
    He shouldn’t discount his writing skills either.
    All the best Dave
    Peter

  34. I’ve been fortunate enough to work with Dave, and I can’t even stress what a stand up guy he is. It’s hard enough to make the jump from a full time “day job” to full time shooter. He’s done this with blood, sweat, and tears. All while giving back to the craft.

    Dave, you might be overwhelmed looking up at this mountain, but I think you’re a lot further from base camp that you realize. Keep it up!

    Thanks to Scott for getting Dave onto your blog. Great read!
    Cheers!

    Dan

  35. Great read – really interesting to have someone on the blog who’s less advanced in their career.

  36. Great posting Dave – beautiful work.
    I’m reminded of Zack A’s video from his guest blog here sometime ago, with your openness and honesty.

    Best wishes in achieving your goals,

    David

  37. Dave + Scott-
    I really appreciated this post. For me, it was refreshing to read an introspective and honest entry such as this one. Sometimes the best artists are thier worst critics.

  38. awesome work & post dave!

  39. Fantastic, Dave. I think part of being an artist is always struggling to find your voice…but in the meantime, others are enjoying the music you are already making.

  40. This post is great. Dave, your work and your attitude are going to take you far. It was really refreshing to read a post by someone who came to photography “late in the game.” It seems like every bio I read describes someone who started shooting at age 6 when their father put an old Leica into their hands. It’s good to hear from someone who found photography as a second career (not a secondary career either). Thanks again Dave and Scott.

  41. An excellent read as always, David. Each time I read a post from you it gets deeper and to the core of who you are as an artist. Your work continues to inspire but more importantly, your character shines through. Keep pushing the ball brother, as you are onto good things.

    God Bless,
    David Burke

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