Interview with iPhone photographer, Chuck Jackson

Chuck Jackson is a photographer based in Durham, North Carolina who uses the iPhone for all his photographic and video making needs. We sat in a Whole Foods to talk about his love for photography, how photography helped him find love, and his favorite photo apps. All photos were taken on the iPhone by Chuck.

Behind the scenes shot of a video shoot, by Chuck Jackson

Shot taken during a video shoot by Chuck Jackson

How long have you been a photographer?

I’ve been a photographer for more than 35 years. I started shooting on 35mm film, and my first camera was a Minolta XD11. There was a Kodak hut in the parking lot of a grocery store where I lived in Somerset, New Jersey, and I’d drop my film off there for processing. Back then, they’d give you money back if your pictures didn’t turn out right. I remember going through all my old photos to look for bad ones that I could turn in whenever I needed some money!

What got you into photography?

I don’t know what made me pick up a camera, but what kept me going is the fact that it allows me to capture and preserve moments. I loved fashion and glamor, even at a young age, and I had lots of beautiful cousins and family members whom I’d shoot all the time. I think that’s what kept me interested.

You won’t believe this, but photography is how I met my wife. I first met her at a wedding, and soon after, I ended up photographing her. I fell in love with her while I photographed her in a bustier, and we’ve been together since then…. 4 kids and 2 grandkids later.

Untitled, by Chuck Jackson

Untitled, by Chuck Jackson

Have you had any formal training?

I’ve taken some classes, but I’m mostly self taught. Things changed dramatically for me once I discovered digital cameras. My first one was a Nikon Coolpix 5700, which had a 5.0MP sensor and a built-in zoom. Being able to immediately review your photos really helped me improve quickly. Since that time, I’ve never taken a bad picture, or more accurately, I’ve never kept a bad picture!

Do you shoot professionally or as an amateur?

I’d have to say I shoot professionally, since I get paid to do it, but it’s not a full time job at the moment. I mostly shoot events, musicians and some fashion. I used to shoot weddings, and hated it. There was too much stress and pressure, and it wasn’t related to the photography itself. Demanding mothers and aunts and cousins, and all sorts of other challenges.

Beach Time, by Chuck Jackson

Beach time, by Chuck Jackson

What type of photography are you most into now?

Fashion is still my number one love, followed closely by street photography. I just love shooting beautiful women and I love to enhance the natural beauty of the people I shoot through editing. I would also love to do more documentary photography, and I really want to shoot more video. I have all the equipment - tripod, gimbal, etc. I just need to start doing it more.

What gear do you typically shoot with?

I shoot with my iPhone 7 Plus and Moment lenses. I sold my Nikon D7000 DSLR and a bunch of lenses when the iPhone 4s came out, and have been iPhone-only since then.

@hasinajaii getting ready to take the stage, by Chuck Jackson

@hasinajaii getting ready to take the stage, by Chuck Jackson

Why’d you decide to shoot with the iPhone?

I fell in love with the simplicity of shooting with the iPhone. As I told my nephew “You don’t need all the bells and whistles to do photography well. You have to shoot what’s there, minus the complications. The simplicity makes you a better photographer, because it forces you to focus on composition, texture, lighting and framing, which are what’s important for great photos.”

What are the drawbacks of shooting with the iPhone?

There are drawbacks if you want to look at them that way, but I don’t see them as such. Ultimately the final image is what matters, and the iPhone allows me to get the shots I want.

Work time, by Chuck Jackson

Work time, by Chuck Jackson

What apps do you use?

My go-to camera app is ProCam, but I also use Camera+ and recently, I’ve used the native camera app more and more because of the Portrait mode. I love that Depth Effect! I also use an app called Blackie for B&W photography.

For editing, I use Snapseed and Lightroom, and I also use one of my favorite apps, Facetune 2. It’s a great app for me because I shoot a lot of fashion. You can do all sorts of incredible things - change facial expressions, modify lighting and swap backgrounds. I also love RNI Films, which is a great film emulation app.

Blue Waters Run Deep, by Chuck Jackson

Blue Waters Run Deep, by Chuck Jackson

You can follow Chuck on Instagram @cwjiphoto and on his website at http://www.cwj-iphoto.com