Whether it’s from the 47th floor in one of Memphis’ tallest towers or clambering through sunflower fields, Adarryll Jackson Sr. is capturing all the moments behind the lens of his Nikon D7100 and seizing his dream of being a photographer.
Rejection and judgment are inevitable factors all artists face and Jackson is no exception. Despite a lack of interest from local galleries, he remained persistent and in anticipation that someone would take a chance on him.
That chance came when WKNO’s Gallery Ten Ninety-One recognized the uniqueness of Jackson’s photography and opted to display his “The Memphis I Love” exhibit this month.
“He reached out to us a couple of years ago and after seeing his work on Facebook, we decided to make room on our busy calendar,” said Amy McDaniel, volunteer and special event coordinator for Gallery Ten Ninety-One. “There is something about his vision that sets him apart from others.”
Jackson’s passion for photography bloomed late but has not hindered it from blossoming.
The Fairley High School graduate and University of Tennessee at Martin alumnus did not find his passion for photography in the classroom, but years later during a family vacation to Houston, Texas.
“It was a Kodak point-and-shoot camera that I shot my first sunset,” Jackson said. “I remember coming home from vacation and uploading the pictures to my computer. I noticed a face in the clouds behind the sunset with open hands. The face appeared to be screaming and that was enough for me to know that this is my passion.”
Jackson’s passion took him to places that he dreamed about as a kid and fueled a specialty in his craft.
“I just remember Japan being somewhere that I always wanted to go as a kid and when the opportunity presented itself, I quit my job at FedEx and flew to Japan with $700 and a laptop,” he said. “That is where I began to fall in love with night photography, and with their culture, everything was a moment to be captured.”
Since deciding to pursue photography full-time, Jackson has relied heavily on his support system.
“I was very blessed to have a friend in Japan that let me live with them so that saved me a lot of money,” he said. “My mom won’t allow me to give her prints; she insists on paying for them. My aunt and uncle also support me when they offer to provide catering for my events and find photography opportunities so I can make extra money.
“It has been a struggle trying to be a full-time photographer, but most jobs come from word of mouth. I definitely desire to make photography my career. I just don’t think a lot of people know about me.”
“The Memphis I Love” exhibit, which showcases the beauty of Memphis, received warm feedback and gave Jackson optimism about future projects.
“It felt good to see people enjoy my photography. I think this exhibit will open doors for me to get my work out there and others will be more likely to take a chance on me,” he said. “I just want people to get the same feeling I get and see the same thing I see. Most people don’t get to see the city from my heights and I want them to be able to experience those moments.”
And, oh yes, he has a fear of heights – another obstacle that he has pushed past in quest of success.
“The Memphis I Love” exhibit can be viewed each weekday at Gallery Ten Ninety-One from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.