By Lucas Jackson
It has been one year since a group of protesters began sleeping on the ground in Zuccotti Park to protest growing income inequality, corporate influence on politics, climate change, and a number of other issues.
One year ago no-one had heard of Occupy Wall St. and it was fascinating to watch the excitement and size of the protest grow over time. What began as a rag tag group of people who came together to make a semi-permanent presence near Wall St. to spread their message in the heart of the New York financial district quickly grew. For those of us who live and work in New York it was a refreshing change to have a news story grow organically in a city where everything is always polished and shined to dullness in order to present to the media.
By Lucas Jackson
Over the course of three days Reuters, along with several other prominent outlets, was given a space and (almost) guaranteed time with every member of Team USA that was able to attend a media summit in Dallas this past May, in order to take portraits of the team members. It was a win-win situation for all involved. The athletes were able to take care of a great deal of their media availability in one weekend and members of the media were not required to travel all over the US in order to get portraits of these elite athletes before they head off to London for the 2012 Olympics. As the photographer from Reuters assigned to this portrait marathon there was only one issue; how to take a single space along with extremely limited time with each athlete to make unique, interesting, and ideally self-explanatory images of dozens and dozens of athletes.
It was a daunting task to say the least but I started with a simple lighting setup that played off of several portrait collections I had seen, including Douglas Kirkland’s, and work that tends to appear in either men’s health or sporting magazines. I finally settled on a dual setup where my first setup would use a simple grey background and light to enhance the muscle tone of the athletes. My second setup was to use a large American flag (given to me by my brother as I arrived in Jalalabad, Afghanistan) to take photos of the athletes who were involved with sports that did not lend themselves to the flexing of muscles or shedding of clothing. I wanted to use ProFoto lights as they have a remote controller and trigger called the “Air Remote” that I could put on my camera to control the light’s power output from the controller mounted on top of the camera. This would save me precious time as I wouldn’t have to physically go to each of the four lights to change their outputs depending on whether I was shooting on the grey seamless backdrop or the flag.
By Lucas Jackson
One of the ubiquitous presences when traveling through Afghanistan on an embed with U.S. soldiers is that of scores of children either watching the soldiers passing in convoys or patrolling their villages. It is not uncommon for dozens of faces to be staring at you, often while standing mere feet away from the obvious out-of-towners.
The soldiers do their best to either ignore these multitudes of staring eyes or to interact with them but most often the children react shyly when confronted or when someone tries to talk to them. As a photographer traveling with these soldiers I also stand out, even more so than the soldiers which they are at least used to seeing. I am dressed differently and instead of a rifle I carry something they see far less often – cameras. For me these trips are as frustrating as they are interesting. I try to catch moments when these children are interacting to the presence of the military in their town or with each other. But I often find that as soon as I point the camera, I either become the center of attention or my young subjects turn and run away.
By Lucas Jackson
Everyone knows that moving into an office with a view is a sure sign of status at your job. If it’s a corner office with a view in two different directions you have managed to place yourself within the upper rungs of the corporate ladder. If your office has a 360 degree view of the financial capital of the world, New York City, you must be a legend. Or, you could be an ironworker putting together the iron skeleton of the new One World Trade in downtown Manhattan.
One World Trade, previously known as the Freedom Tower, has in the last several years quietly grown taller and taller. Today it stands a few stories below being the tallest building in New York City. It is still rising too, at a rather rapid rate and after visiting the top floor I met first hand the group of dedicated ironworkers who are piecing it together, one bolt at a time.
By Lucas Jackson
The inevitable has come to pass. Occupy Wall Street has been pulled, kicking and screaming, from Zuccotti Park, its physical home in lower Manhattan. For two months now the staff and freelance photographers of Reuters in New York have been documenting the evolution of both the idea of “occupying” and the physical campground that has planted the seeds of a global movement. Since September 17 there has been an almost daily visual record made of the metamorphosis that has taken place in Zuccotti Park. This is a man-made concrete block of a park. I must have walked through it dozens of times but it formerly had little use to anyone other than maybe offering a spot to rest while walking through lower Manhattan or a seat that could be used to enjoy lunch on a warm summer day. It took a group of demonstrators who were intent on “Occupying Wall Street” to give this park its day in the spotlight and as a photojournalist it has been fascinating to watch.
At first we had no idea how long the demonstrators would stay. In the early weeks they slept on cardboard pads on the ground in sleeping bags. In the beginning we documented them asleep as office workers gingerly stepped through them on their way to work. At first the NYPD would resist the attempts of the campers to attach tarps to trees, lines holding tarps would be cut, structures would be taken down almost as soon as they were raised and people slept underneath plastic to shield themselves from the rain.
Madame Tussauds wax figures are one of those rare enigmas of an ancient art that has not only lasted but has flourished when, by all accounts, it has been surpassed by technology.
When we want to see what famous people look like all we have to do is sit down at a computer or TV and we can find out more than we ever really needed to know. We can find out what they look like, where they eat, who they are dating, who they are not dating, or even what they did last night.
When our photo staff began to plan for the tenth anniversary of the September 11 attacks, it was difficult to know where coverage should begin. The first story that came to mind is how Ground Zero has changed. It has been remarkable to watch the buildings being constructed. Not only have we seen them rise above ground level, but slowly surpass the height of every other building in lower Manhattan. Colleagues of mine have done a wonderful job of documenting the evolution of the site and the reactions of those around it, but while that might be the most obvious story to tell, it was not the most profound change that I feel has taken place in New York since the attacks. For me, the most significant modification is that security has become omnipresent in the city.
Security has emerged as a fact of life here. When we fly we have to take off our shoes and throw away our water bottles. Every commercial building in New York has a security team and identification is required to get to work. The speakers in the subway system continually remind us that “if you see something, say something” and photographing a building that lies in full view of the public is considered a suspicious activity. While this all might seem like an Orwellian society in which “Big Brother” is constantly looking down upon us, it is necessary to remember that New York has been the target of two major successful attacks, one foiled attack, and unknown numbers of prevented attacks since the first World Trade Center bombing in 1993.
The Arctic Ocean in March is basically an ocean of ice. Almost the entire thing is covered from October to June in an icepack that only partially disappears in the summer and is still very solid in March.
Why would anyone in their right mind volunteer to spend a month to a month in a half in temperatures that usually don’t exceed -10 degrees Fahrenheit or -23 degrees Celsius? In the case of the roughly two dozen souls who work either for the British, Canadian and United States Navy or the Arctic Physics Laboratory Ice Station, it is because there is work to be done.
New York is consistently touted as a cold, aggressive, and hectic city with no personal connections possible. A populace of hyper-efficient and emotionally starved citizens, or at least that’s what I had heard before I moved here.
I arrived in New York almost 4 years ago and immediately found these preconceptions to be mostly untrue, with an exception of the hyper-efficiency. The city forces you to interact, albeit most often very briefly, with thousands of fellow New Yorkers on a daily basis – on the trains, sidewalks, buses, and bike paths that keep the city humming with activity year-round. I have used public transportation ever since arriving in New York to work as a staff photographer for Reuters. This most often means taking the infamous New York City subway.
This portrait session came about because our entertainment reporter, Christine Kearney, noticed that one of the several PR pitches that came across her desk was a small event where Justin Bieber was going to give the winner of a contest a bouquet of flowers. Normally this isn’t a story that we would be interested in because it doesn’t have anything to do with any “larger picture” type of story. However, because it was Bieber, Christine decided she would ask for a few minutes to interview him. One of the hardest things for us to do is gain access because a lot of musicians, actors, or television personalities have very specific images that they want to project so access can be incredibly tight. This restriction to access can make my job difficult because as a photographer I would love the opportunity to document what these public figures lives are like on a day to day basis. The next best thing for me to get is a little one on one time with whoever allows it. Luckily, the PR officer said yes to both the request for a private interview and a quick portrait session, as long as I was low key and quick.
It was a hot day and hauling a large rolling suitcase around with a single set of strobes, along with my backpack full of camera equipment, was enough to make sure that I was panting by the time Christine and I arrived at a small non-descript flower shop in Lower Manhattan. As we walked in I was surprised to see only about a dozen people inside, a couple of television cameras, and one other still photographer. At most events where a celebrity as popular as Justin Bieber is attending there are dozens of photographers and television cameras. I was heartened to see that it would be a much smaller crowd for this. The woman organizing the event told me I could set up my lights in the back while a television station interviewed Justin. Once that was finished Christine could interview him while I moved my lights to the front of the shop where Bieber had to remain seated. I have to admit, I wish all of my portrait shoots could take place in flower shops because it was a welcome break from the usual portrait venue of a hotel room. Not only was the air conditioning on high but it smelled nice and flowery. I think this put everyone at ease as I didn’t have any issues whatsoever setting up my lights, moving them to the front room through a small crowd, or shooting a quick portrait.