Roots student portfolio: Ned Jackson


Boston wedding photographer Ned Jackson initially heard about Roots Workshop through J when he got his liveBooks website, and then a blog through J's side biz Blog Branded. He had signed up for the workshop before WPPI last March, so joined 2008 Roots alumni for reunion drinks one night out in Vegas. Not knowing the inside jokes or loud personalities of those around him, Ned hung in there and told us how excited he was for July...

... At Roots alumni drinks in Vegas this year, I can guarantee one thing: The inside story that will be most told from Roots '09 belongs to Ned. Without going into too much detail, use your imagination and send your sympathies to Ned who was assigned to Cape Cod lobsterman Ben Bergquist on one of the more rockier days at sea of late. Add to the rocking boat the stench of dead fish, and poor Ned got very familiar with a particular bucket on board, let's just say, from both ends.

Despite it all, he produced a fantastic picture story and learned a lot in the process. Somuchso that I am going to let him tell you his thoughts, in his own words:

For me there were really three things that made the workshop so powerful. First, the quality of the relationships that you make throughout the week are worth their weight in gold - both with the mentors and with the other students. I selected the Roots Workshop because the mentor to student ratio was so low. To be surrounded by, and living with some of the top professionals in the industry allowed for relationships that quickly moved past formal pleasantries. People tend to be more honest with you when they feel they know you better. As a result, the quality of the feedback was so much more powerful than what you experience in other workshops. Not to mention, my one-on-one mentoring session at the end of the week was the most personalized and poignant feedback that I've ever received in my career. I'm not really certain that you can place a dollar amount on that.

Two, the overall quality of the assignment forced me to challenge myself as a photographer. I felt that the mentors (including you Emilie!) really put a lot of thought into the assignments that each student received and catered them to the needs of each student. To find myself on a small boat, 21 miles out at sea with about 10 square feet of working room was a completely new challenge. It taught me how to really think out the shots that I wanted to get, prepare for them and execute. It also challenged me as a storyteller. To try to tell the story, in a way that was visually powerful, of something that could be very routine and I'm sure at times monotonous, was a real challenge (especially after being so sick the first day!). In the end, it helped me to think differently about why and when I take pictures.

And last, but certainly not least: To have someone go through your full shoot from each day, unedited, and on the big screen - was a powerful exercise. It allowed the mentors to literally see you work through a situation and make suggestions as to how you could have approached the situation differently. It also helped me to edit more quickly because I learned to be more selective about what makes the final cut.

Photography aside, Ned is one of the easiest people to talk to, relate to, and spend time with. One of my most favorite experiences of the week was listening to him, and watching his eyes wide with pride, as he talked about his 6 month old son Nate. Very excited to learn that Ned is already considering returning for Roots '10 (that's right, details to come next week)!!

Take a peek at Ned's story (and thanks again to sponsor Triple Scoop Music).

Roots Workshop: Ned Jackson with lobsterman Ben Bergquist from emilie sommer on Vimeo.


  1. Ned! Your slideshow was great but the stories of your first day on the boat were the best!!!

  2. Aww shucks. Thanks Emilie. I had a great week!

  3. Like "deadliest catch" - east coast style - love it Ned, great work, esp. in what was clearly a tough environment.


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