Written by Loe Cole, Edited by Bhargava Chiluveru
From Broad Street to Little Five Points, photographer Keith Jackson captures an array of subjects ranging in size, shape, and background. Even through black and white photography–which has become his signature–Keith’s artistry shines vividly. Every photograph he takes poetically tells a different story yet each resembles humanity at its core.
Keith explained, “I want to show everyday life and show the small things that make us who we are. Humanity, is really what I’m trying to show,” he explained, “especially in today's world… Everything is post, snap, repost, retweet, …we lose the essence of what really makes us, us. I want to show the range of everything, the happiness, sadness, the frustration. I want people to feel… to relate.”
Keith was drawn to the challenge and the simplicity of black and white photography. In his opinion, black and white photography allows the viewer to focus on the subjects and their representation without the distraction of color.
Hiddern Gems by Keith Jackson
Keith Jackson comes from a family filled with singers, musicians, and artist. As Keith was growing up, his uncle worked as a freelance photographer booking portraits sessions and events. “When I was growing up everybody’s dad had a camera, right? Always taking pictures of the family. I never looked at the photography as a creative medium,” Keith said. “I really thought it was kind of corny, kind of cheesy,” he said as he chuckled.
It was a shift in who he followed on Instagram that motivated Keith’s to pursue photography. After following National Geographic and realizing that even professional photographers post iPhone pictures, Keith gave it a shot.
"I Am Hope”
Keith snapped this photo in the downtown area of Atlanta at the height of chaos; an act of police brutality surfaced in the media and riots were breaking out across Baltimore.
The image caught the eye of Atlanta rapper, Killer Mike, who received the image on a canvas personally delivered by Keith. Killer Mike frequently encourages Keith to “keep up the good work.”
Keith said, “I had a standard typical Instagram-like anybody else taking pictures of food, beer, the typical stuff. The imagery wasn’t thought-provoking, to say the least.”
Photography started out as a stress reliever for Keith but evolved into a passion which turned into a new career path. Keith was going through a time where things felt out of his control. Photography was a way for Keith to relax and express himself.
First Amendment by Keith Jackson
In the middle of doing a scheduled photo shoot, Keith stopped to take a break when the man photographed above, got off the train and fell into a praying position.
“I was taking a minute to adjust my camera and I see the guy,” Keith described. “I barely had a clue to what I was doing and I was borrowing Bhargava’s camera.” Then he reacted, “I saw him… I got down… I had to catch it.”
For thirty minutes to an hour or so, Keith would find peace walking around Atlanta taking photos of the city on his iPhone. It wasn’t too long before, Keith got a hold of his father’s camera and people took notice.
“My dad probably thought it was a hobby. He saw the acknowledgment I started getting, my work, how much time I was spending on it and how much I cared about it,” Keith explained. “He's very proud, my parents are very proud.”
There is no arguing that Keith’s work is inspirational. It’s obvious he has come a long way from his amateur beer and food photos. Now, Keith captures the seemingly unknown and under-appreciated side of Atlanta. It’s safe to say that Keith envisions the city and the people unlike anyone else.
"Downtown" by Keith Jackson
“When I shoot, my goal is always to try to show the diversity in Atlanta. You can really meet any kind of person just walking up the street, that's one thing I love about Atlanta,” said Keith.
He continued in admiration, “Atlanta has so many neighborhoods, so many places, so many different angles to cover. I’ll never be done. Atlanta will always be my life's work. It’s always changing and it's always growing.”
Keith is the essence of "kool," well-composed and impressive. He has found bliss in pursuing photography, first as a hobby and now as a career. Keith’s talent comes from his authenticity as a person, his love for Atlanta and his respect for the craft.
We had a chance to sit down with one of our Featured Artists, Keith Jackson (@koolestkeith) at @chilstudios at to talk about his process and about his upcoming show COLORBLIND. . The show is set to be at @switchyards downtown club on June 10th from 7-11. Check out @colorblindatl to RSVP and for more details.
On Saturday, June 10, Keith takes his vision of the streets of Atlanta to another level in his debut exhibition, Colorblind. The portrait series is sure to make you rethink what you knew about the people and places of Atlanta. The event will be held at Switchyards Downtown Club, on June 10th, 2017 from 7:00 pm – 11:00 pm at 151 Ted Turner Drive Northwest Atlanta, GA 30303.
Colorblind aims to make us blind to our differences in order to move forward as a community and as a nation. Colorblind is about celebrating what makes us all unique and displaying the beauty that lies inside of us—connecting people with the one thing that unites us all, humanity.
“My intention is to make the viewer feel a connection to the person in my portraits,” says Jackson. “What I’m trying to do when I’m shooting is to get people to see things for what they truly are and also to realize that, stripped of prejudices and biases, there is more that unites us than that divides us.”
We hope to see you there.