An untapped, artistic side of President Thomas Jackson is being displayed in Rare Books and Special Collections Library in an exhibition of his photos.
The 36 color photos are nature-oriented and picture a variety of local Rochester and San Francisco scenery.
“The photos [displayed] are from over the course of the last five years,” Jackson said.
Although the exhibit did not require a lot of preparation on the part of the President, the photos show an array of photographic ability, from macro techniques to wide-span photos across the river.
Jackson’s interest in photography began at a young age.
“My father got me into photography when I was younger,” he said. “I took mostly black and white stuff back then.”
Jackson also participated in yearbook and photography club in high school. “I would cover basketball, football, and baseball,” he recalled. To support his hobby, Jackson’s father eventually installed a dark room in the basement of their home.
“I got busy. I didn’t do much photography,” Jackson said of his college years. “Having kids got me back into it.”
Although Jackson does not have a favorite photo from the exhibit, there is one which particularly touches him.
“The dark orange flower was taken with a macro flash,” he described. “In the background there are spider webs. It’s a beautiful flower with almost modern art strands [in the background].”
Although he runs on a tight schedule, Jackson usually manages to find time to keep up his hobby.
“This year I haven’t found time. A lot of it is just having a camera with you. Sometimes I will make time – I will go to the Finger Lakes and be there at sunrise. It’s all, at best, two to three hours out of a day.”
Jackson’s advice to young photographers is to trust your instincts. “Imagine what it is going to look like.”
Jackson confesses that great photos are not made easily or quickly. “You have to know part of technology,” he said. “Every now and then you get surprised. If I can get a photo out of a couple weekends, that’s great.”
Photography is an outlet for Jackson.
“It’s a way for me to be creative and a little bit artistic,” Jackson said. “I can do photography but can’t do other forms of art.”
Jackson also views photography as a personal gain. “It’s a way of making me observant of the world,” he said. “It changes the way I drive down the street.”
Jackson recognizes that his work has changed over the years.
“I am a harder critic now then I used to be. I think that’s good.”
Finally, Jackson notes the change in his perception of what it takes to create a great photo.
“You do it in a way you find more satisfying,” he said. “At the end of the day, it’s how I feel about it.”
The exhibit, titled “Images: Recent Developments By President Thomas H. Jackson,” will be on display until Jan. 31, 2004.
Tanner can be reached at email@example.com.