Today’s interview is with Will Jacks of Wiljax Photographic Design

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*Describe your photography style:
Wow. That’s a tough question to answer. And it seems like as soon as I do, it will change. Often it depends on the job. Commercial and editorial work tends to be cleaner. My gallery work is a little less technical — more abstract. And with portrait and wedding work I try to be somewhere in the middle. So I guess the best way to describe my “style” would be multiple personality-ish, laced with a little attention deficit disorder.

*What is a must read or must see?
Must Read: Rising Tide by John Barry. It is about the Mississippi River flood of 1927 and how it reshaped the United States. I’ve heard him speak about Hurricane Katrina and I can’t wait to see what he writes about this event. I think he’ll draw quite a few similarities between the two when it’s all said and done. You’d think we’d learn from past actions.

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Must See: Last King of Scotland, Juno, I’m Not There, and the one I could watch over and over and over and over: Bottle Rocket
But there really are so many great films. I’d watch one every night if it were possible.

*What are your work hours?
Depends. Some would say I never work. Some would say I never stop. I work by appointment, so my hours are really flexible. I am a night owl by nature, and my most creative and energetic moments seem to happen once the sun goes down. I’m usually doing something until three or four in the morning, then taking a little while to get going the next day. It drives my wife crazy. Once I start a project and things are really flowing pretty good, I usually keep after it until I’m finished — or at least until I reach a point where there’s nothing more I can do without starting a new phase of the project. Then I sleep a few hours, get up and start again.

*What is your favorite thing about Pictage?
Does this question really need to be asked anymore? The forum. The community. All the wonderful people here. I’ve learned so, so much in my brief time here. And it’s all because of the wonderful photographers I visit with everyday.

But there are other things about Pictage that I’m excited about. I do feel the powers that be at Pictage listen to us and respond to our needs, perhaps not as quickly as some of us would like — larger boats turn a little slower than smaller ones, but they do turn. I feel like I have an opportunity to help shape this company in a manner that works well for me and my clients. I just need to make sure my ideas are well thought out and reasonable, then share them once I’m certain they are. No company is going to be 100% perfect, but it’s encouraging to see one that is constantly looking to grow and move into new directions by considering the suggestions of it’s clients (or partners as we’re all called here). I get excited when I work with people willing to explore, and I feel Pictage does this.

*What lens could you not live without?
Easy. Lensbaby. Hands down.

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*How long have you been a photographer?
Well, I’ve carried a camera around for the last ten years without another source of income, but I’ve really just become comfortable calling myself a “photographer” in the last 18 months or so. And even then it feels a little funny calling myself that. But it’s less pretentious than “artist” and sounds a lot better than “picture guy” (though that seems to be the title others give me more often than not)

*What was your very first job?
First job with a paycheck?
I drove a tractor and bulldozer when I was 15 for our local park commission.

First job that I really needed?
I worked the graveyard shift at a country music radio station in grad school because that was the only free time I had to work. Even though my school was paid for from my teaching assistantship I needed the radio gig to give me spending money and help pay the rent.
I worked 4 nights a week from 11 PM – 6 AM. My radio name was “Will Haggart” and I know from that experience that there are some really freaky people awake at 4 o’clock in the morning.

First job out of college?
I taught 7th and 8th grade English even though I was the only person at the school with a degree in Spanish. The Spanish teacher was the only person in the school with an advanced degree in English. Go figure. I was also an assistant coach for the football and baseball teams and ran the scoreboard at track meets and basketball games.

I’ve actually photographed about 6 or 7 weddings of the kids that were in school at that time. So other than “Hey, Picture Man”, probably the most common name I’ve been called at weddings is, “Hey Coach Jacks!” My 8th graders are having their ten year reunion this summer. I saw one of the kids (well, adults now) at a recent wedding and she promised to send me an invitation. It’s going to be very strange seeing all those 13 year olds that are now pushing 30.

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*Most listened to song on your ipod?
I’ve been listening to a lot of contemporary folk-type stuff lately. Brent Berry’s Lakes of Ponchartrain is probably the most played song lately. But John Butler’s been playing a lot as well.

*What is a goal for 2008?
For myself-
Continue to push myself artistically. Create more personal images during my down time with very specific reasons for doing so. Try to get over my fears of showing my personal work to others. Approach more galleries. Get going on some writing projects I’ve been kicking around. Improve my business and organizational skills.

For my clients –
Get better technically. Improve my lighting skills. Improve TAT.

For my business and my community-
Open my art gallery.

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I live an area of tremendous creative energy. It seems like every other person here is a painter, writer, sculptor, musician, poet, photographer, craftsman, or some other wonderful talent. Some are decent, some are pretty darn good, but many, many more are BRILLIANT. But there seems to be a void in the abilities to generate income utilizing these talents. Our area is small and poor.

There is no easy way to break into the “art” scene, and I think many people here don’t pursue their art as deeply as they might if they were to receive a little more positive feedback from others besides close friends and family. So I’m revamping my space to give so many of these wonderful artists a place to show their talents. This is something I’ve been wanting to do for years, but it’s just now coming to fruition. I’m as excited about this project as perhaps anything I’ve ever done.

I can’t think of many better places to live and work everyday than rooms filled with wonderful creations by many different talents–incredible paintings and photographs on the walls, awesome handcrafted furniture to sit in, amazing sculptures and wood work commanding attention in every nook and cranny, jewelry and pottery on the counters, local musicians on the stereo, handcrafted books and fabrics on the shelves — that’s my version of heaven. And when it does finally open sometime this summer I would love to see some Pictagers come down for the festivities. And I would love for some of you to send me some work to display!
Seriously. Give me a shout if you’re interested.

Sorry. I guess that was more than one goal. So I’ll add that to the list. Stop telling people how to build a clock when they only ask me the time.

*What is one thing we don’t know about you?
I am a fireman. Not a very good one. But I do have a red light in my car and a badge. And the trucks are a TON of fun to drive.

*Who inspires you?
My wife.
If it were not for her, I would probably be the most worthless person I know. So much of what I do is because I cannot bear the though of anyone saying, “Jamie is incredible, but why did she marry that guy !?” She does something everyday that leaves me in awe. I am constantly learning from her, and the greatest sound in the world is that of her laughing. So I do my best to create something everyday that will bless me with her smile and her laughter.

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*What blog do you stalk?
None really. I look at many on occasion when I feel I’m in a creative rut. But there’s not really one that I would say I “stalk” more than the others. I usually go through the blog threads on Pictage and try to visit ones I haven’t visited in a while.

*If you had a tagline, what would it be?
“And now leading off for the St. Louis Cardinals, centerfielder WILL JACKS.”
OK. That’s not really a tagline, but I sure would’ve enjoyed hearing that every summer day for about 15 years.

Any words of wisdom to share…
It’s never as good as it seems . . . . it’s never as bad as it seems.

Thank you Will!
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4 Comments

  • Sarah Hodzic says:

    Yeah Pictage for highlighting another amazing photographer!

    WilJax, so fantastic to see you here on the Pictage blog.
    You work is so inspiring, it’s hard to put into words really.

    I am positive that you will attain your goals for 2008 and most likely go above and beyond!

    + Sarah

  • shawnreeder says:

    It sure is great to read more about you Will, and to see that great picture of you and your wife. How inspiring. Thanks for sharing.

  • Will your words speak volumes and so does your work. We are blessed to know you my friend!

  • Deb says:

    Will, congratulations for being highlighted here! I check in about once a week now, and really need to get back to the community! I “ditto” what the above say about you and you know that I think your work is some of the most inspiring out there! All 3 above too – very inspiring people. I think your dreams, goals, and words about your wife speak volumes about you! I hope to see your gallery one day! That’s so cool you are a fireman!! My dad is the fire photographer for a little fire department in Sublimity, Oregon. You amaze us all!!
    God Bless you and your very cute wife!!! deb 🙂

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