Tom Jackson is 47 years old and his full time profession is a diplomat, but he is also lucky enough to have found some modest success as a freelance photographer, including working for a number of different magazines and have had several books published. He is currently based in Tokyo.
What inspired you to become a photographer?
I started around the age of 12. I always enjoyed paining and drawing and on being given a camera I was hooked. Soon after that I taught myself to develop and print my own black and white pictures, finding the darkroom much more fulfilling and rewarding than painting and drawing.
My father was an occasional amateur photographer and I remember spending time looking through lots and lots of Kodachromes, so I think that maybe that too was an inspiration.
Whats inspires your photography?
Places, people. My mood. The weather. The seasons. Other peoples photographs, paintings. All sorts of things.
What does it mean to you?
It`s important to me. I find photography both relaxing and challenging, as well as rewarding. I find it a source of pleasure, excitement, inspiration and a way of expressing ideas and emotions – but it can be very frustrating and a source of disappointment. No other single activity does all this for me and keeps pushing me to learn more, do more, understand more and improve. The thrill of producing something that `works` is a form of adrenaline I suppose.
How did the project start?
I`m conscious I`ll move on from Tokyo at some point and so wanted to capture the parts of Tokyo that are maybe more representative of day-to-day life and take a little effort to uncover. The image of Tokyo many people have is one of modern high rise buildings, large crowds, the latest consumer gadgets and plenty of neon lights – somewhere like Ginza or Shibuya. But I wanted to do something different, record another side of Tokyo.
How did you approach the subject matter?
Tokyo can be a pretty grey place; I don`t think it could ever be described as elegant, or an architectural gem. Aside from a few striking one-off designs, the architecture and streets are largely unremarkable. But, that`s not to say it isn`t interesting. I wanted to record some of the everyday back streets – but in doing so try and capture splashes of colour and interesting light.
I also set myself the challenge of being more disciplined about composition, both in terms of colour, shapes and light. I suppose I`m using this project not just to record things, but a way of challenging myself, improving and also of developing a style that is a little different to the work I`ve done previously and elsewhere. You`ve got to keep moving forward, keep learning.
What cameras did you shoot with and why
Fuji X-Pro 1 and XT-1. They`re light, compact, offer some nice prime lenses and, really importantly for me, have traditional aperture rings and shutter speed dials. And of course, I like the files they produce too, as I find them easy to work with and they can stand up to post-processing work.
What are you looking for in street photography?
Any closing comments?
Thanks to everyone at Inspired Eye. It`s a regular fix and great to see such a wealth of ideas from all over the world. It`s, well, inspirational!
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