Advocate photographer's work including in book of photos of New York City

October 20, 2003|JENNIFER BRUMMETT

Clay Jackson has been interested in photography for a long time.

As a teenager he painted, while his dad took pictures. Then Jackson developed an interest in photography that exceeded his interest in art.

"Sometimes I can be very impatient," says Jackson, chief photographer for The Advocate Messenger. "With photography, pretty much you take it and that's it. You don't come back 15 minutes from now and touch it up like a canvas. It's instant gratification."

Jackson's pursuit of that instant gratification led him to The Eddie Adams Workshop, an exclusive clinic for photographers from across the country. He spent five days last year learning from some of the top senior photographers in the country. Getting into the seminars was a high for Jackson.


"You basically submit a portfolio and get chosen," he says of the admission process. "People from all over world, normally younger photojournalists, submit portfolios.

"I don't know the number exactly of how many people submitted portfolios, but I heard 4,000."

Out of that 4,000, 100 young photojournalists were chosen to participate.

"The workshop has a group of older photographers - the guy in charge of our group was the editor of Sports Illustrated (James Colton) and he had the top photographer at Sports Illustrated (Bill Frakes) be in charge of us, too," Jackson explains. "Each group had somebody important.

"It was pretty amazing, being in the presence of some of those photographers."

On one day of the clinic - Sept. 11, 2002 - 10 groups of 10 went out and about in New York, focusing their cameras on a variety of subject matter such as civil servants, Coney Island, fashion and entertainment.

"Basically, New York had not changed - life was going on," Jackson says. "Every day things were still happening."

Jackson's group's assignment was "sports." Jackson said he took photos of street basketball as well as an outdoor trapeze artist school. A photo from the latter shoot was used in the book that came out of the seminar, titled "NYC: Life Going On."

"I had to get three shots from the trapeze school - one from below, one close up and one from the top," Jackson remembers. "I had to climb the trapeze ladder - it was very high and very windy. They attached me and everything. That's the shot they used - the shot from above."

The book is "a day in the life" type of tome, Jackson says.

"It's a day in the life of a New Yorker, everything from taxi drivers to trapeze artists to everything," he notes. "I was very pleased at how it came out. I like the way it looks, with everything coming together. (The book) makes it a pretty cool day in the life - it illustrates everything perfectly."

There were a number of highlights from the seminar, Jackson says, but one stands out to him.

"The speakers," he says. "Gordon Parks, hearing him speak, and hearing Thomas Franklin speak. That was the highlight. And, I was in New York City for the first time."

Trying to give the editor what he wanted was one of the challenges of the photography workshop.

"It makes your heart beat just trying to get the assignment right," Jackson notes. "I guess just trying to please the editor, it was kind of a rush. ... I'd never been to New York, and trying to get around the first time there and trying to make the assignment on time and get back and deliver the film - that was kind of a challenge. I think they did it to see if you could make it in the world of newspapers and magazine journalism.

"I've talked to him a few times since," he adds. "He even asked for a picture, but didn't use it. Maybe one day."

For now, he's still pleased he made it into The Eddie Adams Workshop.

"I heard about it for 10 years," he says. "This was first time I tried (to get admitted to) it. Just having that was an accomplishment.

"I don't really know any other workshops like that - it's like the king of workshops."

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