Photographer Logan Jackson first wormed his way into our consciousness in the summer when he teamed up with his idol Roe Ethridge for Vice magazine’s annual photo issue.
Born in Bermuda, raised in Arkansas, Logan moved to New York to study photography at the city’s School for Visual Arts. In the years since, Logan’s well developed eye for casting, dry humour and ease with texture and light has won the photographer commissions by an impressive list of brands and magazines, among them Bloomberg Businessweek, Opening Ceremony, King Kong, i-D, Glossier, W magazine and Urban Outfitters, and images in exhibitions from Austin, Texas to Belfast in Northern Ireland.
From naive beginnings to shoot-induced euphoria, we caught up with the photographer to find out more about his life and practise.
How did you find your way into photography?
When I was in high school I focused on drawing and painting, and that was what I planned to make a life out of. Generally even then I was making portraits, still life, and landscape, but I was really only capable of duplicating photographs, not so much bringing to life the images in my head. I had a friend who was toying around with photography during our high school years, and I was just intrigued by what I saw was possible with a camera – things were a bit more tangible. So it’s always been about creating for me, and when I got a camera (I was 17) I started by making photos of random objects around the house, then moved to creating vignettes in my yard or nearby stretches of empty land. Mostly I photographed myself, friends, siblings, and landscapes here and there. I really had no idea what I was doing or who I was doing it for.
Even when I started showing work online, the truth was that I still lived in Arkansas, and only knew what I knew about photography from what I read on photography forums – it was pretty pure in that stage. I was just making what I thought were good, interesting pictures that were naive and scarcely influenced by preconceived notions on image making, which I think was a good precursor to the actual education in photography that I got later.
What would you say defines your photographic style?
I think (I hope) that people would know my work from elements like colour, humour, sexuality, shadows that you would normally want to eliminate; on the more emotional side – a familiarity, an emptiness, and a self-conscious tone. In the past few years it’s come to be defined by the occasional incorporation of cartoon imagery, which aligns itself with the themes of humour, youth, and sexuality with an approach to photography that combines formal and very informal methods that sort of seem like a child might’ve made them. I tend to jump around a lot in terms of actual visuals – recontextualising my own work, using bootleg video stills – but that in itself is what I want to define my photographic style. I want it to be something with many facets, using multiple mediums, perhaps repetitive, with nods to traditional photography standards.
Tell us about the recent project that you’re most proud of.
I’ve finally begun efforts to compile a book, which in the future I expect to be proud of (hah), but no one has seen this yet so…. Getting to be a part of the Pink exhibition at Colette in Paris this past February was a pretty great way to start off the year though. It was quite humbling to be situated next to some of the artists that I was quizzed on in school only a couple of years ago. So I am a bit proud of that.
What is it about your job that excites you most?
There is a euphoric feeling, for me, that comes from shooting. Sometimes I get it in the middle of a shoot, maybe after a bit of trial and error when things have finally fallen into place, maybe things are looking better than I expected them to. Other times, the feeling comes when I’m sitting down and combing through my work – new or old – and I discover images that I hardly even remember making, or I find pictures that I can transform into something new. I love the idea of recontextualising my own work. This feeling is pretty different to anything else I’ve experienced, but it boils down to getting excited about putting something out into the world that feels new and experimental, while also carving out a spot for myself in the history of image-making…
But besides all of that, I feel humbled by the privilege of being able to be a part of this community of artists, and able to make this a job. I am lucky enough to be conscious of and sensitive about what can be done through photography, and I am excited about contributing to a new era of the medium that will hopefully continue to move in a more diverse and equal direction.
Where do you look when you’ve run out of ideas?
I’m admittedly not really a fountain of ideas that’s constantly spilling over, but I never really feel “out” of ideas. There are times when I feel less inspired than others, and times when I feel like I’m a creative fraud, but I know that I’ve got a supply in the dark recesses of my mind. But there are a few things that I know will get me going if I need a boost.
Looking at colouring book pages does it for me sometimes – I can either see how it will interact with an already existing photo, or how it could become one. Sometimes I will just dig back through really old work, look at the things that I would’ve glossed over before, think about why I felt they “didn’t work”, and use that kind of mentality as a starting point. A lot of the time that results in new ideas and new work.
When I can actually make myself do it, writing works exponentially well for me. Just writing anything and everything down stream of consciousness style is my go-to. Sometimes I’ll look at the writing days or weeks later and cringe a bit, but I think it’s healthy to get it all out on the page. Another way of writing I’ve just recently gotten into is just writing from a fictional person’s point of view, and having a stream of consciousness moment as someone else.
It’s not very common for me to look at other photographers’ work specifically for ideas, but I have. For instance I find myself always going back to Norbert Schroener’s Prada campaigns from the 90s when I have a fashion shoot. It kind of doesn’t even matter what the shoot is; that is some of the most ideal fashion photography to me – a bit dirty, funny, and stimulating. I also have this book that my friend Alis gave me, it’s like this art photo book composed of Giorgio Armani images from the 80s and 90s and there are just some really genius moments in there.
I have also gotten a lot of ideas from going to the Luce Center in the American Wing of the Met in NYC. It consists of rows and rows of huge glass cases that hold oil paintings, furniture, ceramics, sculptures, etc. Something about that really gets to me!