Photographer’s Q&A – Anne-Marie Jackson
This week’s Q&A is with Anne-Marie Jackson, The Globe and Mail. Her web site is amjackson.com
Toronto – Children play at Frontlines, a Weston Road community drop-in centre that provides food and educational programs to children and youth. A recent surge of gang activity in the York-Weston area over the last six months led to a huge decline in enrollment, but increased police patrol and community involvement has encouraged parents to put their children back into summer programs. July 7, 2009. (Photo by Anne-Marie Jackson/ The Globe and Mail)
What were your first steps in the industry?
In 2001, I was moving around Canada while working towards an Arts degree focused on psychology and sociology. At King’s University College in Edmonton, I took a print journalism elective with Margaret MacPherson, who would later inspire me to pursue a career in journalism.
I started writing for a number of small weeklies including The Rimbey Review, in Rimbley, Alberta, about an hour-and-a-half north of Edmonton. A Christmas internship turned into a staff position, but small-town living wasn’t for me.
In 2004/05, I went to Ireland, where my mother lives, and ended up finishing my studies there. I also picked up a graphic design course. When I came back to Canada, I had the bug and I decided to go back to journalism school full time. I moved to Lethbridge, Alberta, where I got my print journalism diploma from Lethbridge College.
In my first year, I approached the local paper, The Lethbridge Herald, and after a successful internship, I was hired as a full-time reporter. I would dash to school during the day, skip class on Friday, and get into the newsroom for my weekend shifts. I was also honing my skills as main editor for the student paper and magazine.
After a few months, I started talking to Herald photographers Chris Colbourne, Ian Martens and David Rossiter. They were my inspiration. I started shadowing them and taking pictures on assignment. My photos started getting published and I was hooked. I loved working at the Herald. The newsroom was extremely positive. The editors, writers and photographers helped me every step of the way.
After I graduated from college, I stayed on at the paper for a little longer but my desire to write was overshadowed by the idea of being able to tell stories visually. So, I decided to change direction. Honestly, in my head I figured the more things I could do, the more opportunities would come – all with hard work, of course.
In 2006, I met Edmonton Sun photo editor Tom Braid at the Alberta Weekly Newspaper Awards, where I received a writing award. I was a writer who wanted to be a photographer and Tom gave me his undivided attention and spurred me on even though I shamefully had no photo portfolio with me at the time. So, that was it. I was set. But nothing comes without risk.
I ended up in Loyalist College’s fast-track program, did a few internships, and was hired as the summer intern for the Edmonton Journal in 2008. From there, I secured a staff position at The Globe and Mail, in September 2008.
Prince Edward County, Ontario. – Josh Molyneaux and his family walk out of the woods after an unsuccessful morning hunting. December 2008. (Photo by Anne-Marie Jackson)
When you were a student, what did you want to do after graduation? Are you where you thought you would be now?
I am exactly where I always dreamed I would be, just way sooner than I ever thought possible. The challenge now is to expand my knowledge base; work on documentaries on my time off; and as the new publisher of NPAC.ca and a participant in the organization, develop NPAC and, in doing so, hopefully build and maintain a good reputation in the industry.
What or who are your biggest inspirations?
I am obsessed with photo books, and I draw huge inspiration from examining other photographers’ work. I have spent two years building the collection. A few favourites are: Larry Towell’s The World From My Front Porch; anything Eugene Richards but inclusively, Fat Baby; Brenda Ann Kenneally’s Money Power Respect; Ward 81 by Mary Ellen Mark; and Jodi Bieber’s Between Dogs and Wolves. I also have an ongoing archive of Reuters images.
I’ll get to the web sites later on, there are way too many.
My mom is also a huge inspiration. She works more than anyone I know and she reminds me that you can always do more, you can always work harder. She lives in Ireland, so my dad has been an ongoing support for me throughout my career in Canada. I’ll never forget how happy he sounded when I sent him my first business card from The Globe. My parents’ guidance has inspired me more than anything.
Hobbema, Alberta – A young woman lies on the floor of the RCMP detachment. There are 14 active gangs in the small four nations. Increased police presence and community involvement has decreased the instances of violence in the area. Summer 2008. (Photo by Anne-Marie Jackson)
Do you have a mentor?
I don’t have mentors whom I talk to about my work on a regular basis but I do have several mentors who have helped guide my career in some way.
As I mentioned above, Chris Colbourne and Tom Braid are two of them, but I’ve also spent a lot of time getting critiqued by my close friends: Pawel Dwulit, Aaron Vincent Elkaim, Andrew Spearin, Ryan Jackson and Tory Zimmerman. These are the main people I see on a regular basis who are helping to shape how I see photography and multimedia moving forward.
Reporter Jennifer Yang, a very dear friend, keeps me on my toes from a writing perspective. I work on a lot of solo projects with her and she is incredible. Advice for students: find a talented writer to align yourself with and doors will open.
And among many others: Frank O’Connor (from Loyalist College) is like a father figure to me; photographer Brent Foster, who advised me when he taught for one semester at Loyalist, has a very inspirational career path to watch unfold; photographer Louie Palu has been so kind and accommodating; and Globe and Mail photographer John Lehmann trusted me to develop the Photographer’s Q&A and he coached me as I took on more responsibility within NPAC.
What was a pivotal point in your career?
So many along the way! The most life-changing was when Moe Doiron offered me a staff job. I turned down several jobs/internships for the opportunity. It was scary at the time, but when you get the call you don’t say no. Now, I‚ am focused on proving I deserve the position.
Toronto – Sam and Chris sit outside the youth shelter where they live. May 22, 2009. (Photo by Anne-Marie Jackson)
What are you working on now?
At work, I am mainly focused on programmed content, mini docs and some long-term docs. But, it is very important to me to build my own body of work, so I have a large private documentary that I am working on with photographer Cheol Joon Baek, as well as two other smaller solo projects.
I am also working on developing NPAC, including a cross-collaboration with PhotoSensitive, which will be announced next month. Other than that, I try to volunteer my time to students as much as possible.
How important to you is multimedia?
Multimedia is extremely important to me. It is incredible to be part of the changing industry at this time because I get to be a part of the evolution of our style, brand and presentation. I get a first-hand look at how different generations are consuming media and I can choose which way, I believe, communicates the story most effectively.
As I become more involved in multimedia, my pieces get longer, the editing more intricate, the options less defined. When I saw John Lehmann awarded for his work on The Man Behind the Log, I knew there was so much further I could go with my storytelling, so many other audiences we can affect. In essence, we are writers, photographers, videographers, graphic designers, editors, filmmakers, documentarians and whatever else we can dream up.
Every day I learn something new that I can add to my storytelling, whether it’s audio, a visual element, a new way to bring pictures and video together or editing techniques. Since I joined The Globe, I have begun using After Effects, Motion, Soundtrack Pro, Advanced FCP, MPEG Streamclip, Snaps and Flash on a daily basis.
Multimedia is here to stay and, for me, it is the perfect medium for my style of storytelling.
How do you ensure you are progressing as a visual journalist?
Work, work, work. The more people I surround myself with, the more I learn. Simple equation but it is essential to constantly ask for advice, show people work and be open to feedback. With every story I learn more, so I guess maintaining motivation and the desire to get out there are meet people and really delve into their lives is important. I try and seek out stories that challenge my personal views, upbringing and beliefs.
What are some of the must-see web sites you visit? Please include why you visit these sites (e.g. inspiration, guidance, information, education, etc.).
Oh man, I’m constantly adding RSS feeds as I discover new blogs and web sites. Here are some I have come across, or follow religiously, in no specific order:
Visual Journalist: visualjournalist.org
Advancing the Story: www.advancingthestory.com
Digital Artwork: digitalartwork.net
Burn Magazine: www.burnmagazine.org
Verve Photo: vervephoto.wordpress.com
The Big Picture: www.boston.com/bigpicture
PDN Photo of the Day: www.pdnphotooftheday.com
Toronto – A bird sits on a wire in a back alley near Bay and Wellesley on September 30, 2008. (Photo by Anne-Marie Jackson)
Web Blogs and Collectives:
What is your favorite way to unwind?
Unwind, funny. Ummm. I think I am too young to unwind. I am fully absorbed in the photo world. When I am not working, I am usually looking at photo books or having a drink and a chat on my patio. I spent most of my childhood moving around England, Ireland and Canada so when I get antsy I hop on a plane and go back to Europe.
What’s the best piece of advice anyone ever gave you about being a photographer?
”Photographers are only limited by their skill set. Learn who you are, learn who inspires you, and great things will come.”
Edmonton – Mother Cynthia and children from Onion Lake, Sask., blow kisses to the Virgin Mary as they pray during the Lac Ste. Anne pilgrimage. July 21, 2008. (Anne-Marie Jackson/ Edmonton Journal)