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Jackie Lee Young

A sense of adventure or carelessness.

story: Tiffany Diane Tso
photos and captions: Jackie Lee Young

As the viewer, we oftentimes know very little about the subject, about the setting or about the artist. We construct a reality within our own imaginations about a place, a time, a person. Most of the time, we will never know the truth about the moment the image was captured. Maybe it is for the best, so that we can continue on with our assumptions, assigning our own truths to a parallel universe. Sometimes getting the real story disillusions you, and sometimes it makes it so much better. We want to risk it, because Jackie Lee Young's photos always have us wondering about a pretense and a meaning.

"I was once in the car with my Dad and I saw a deserted parking lot that I wanted to shoot. This parking lot just happened to be at the mall. I got out, left the car running, and my dad was on car duty. A mall security guard pulled up and started to heckle my dad about me shooting. My dad told him, 'listen, my daughter is taking a picture of that lamp pole. If she doesn't do it, WHO WILL? Now move along; she has ideas.'  If I don't do it, who will?" 

Sometimes the photo is something as mundane as a lamp pole in a mall parking lot, but Young's pictures are always more about what happened before, what happened after and the feeling. "In terms of seeking out a subject to shoot, I feel like I do best with people with a sense of adventure or carelessness." Her photo arsenal is filled to the brim with snapshots from her travels, experimental friend portraits and astute observations.

"The Snapshot is something that is a part of everyone's life: it's constant; it's everywhere; it's waiting for you. The Portrait is different. It requires a plan, it requires a voice, it requires a vision. I have always found myself to be part spontaneous (snapshot) and part strictly structured (portrait)."

I asked Jackie to tell us the stories behind some of her most unforgettable images.

Palm Springs, California.

Natural. Beth was about to jump in the pool. I ran to the top of the look out point of the hotel and said, "JUMP!" I wasn't scared to fall, because I was so excited to get the shot.

Palm Springs, California.

Natural. Vegan burrito breakfast. I told Beth I was going to the bathroom and shot this instead. 

Joshua Tree, California.

Set up. Desert Diamonds made by Ana Klausmann in Austin and transported by Beth and I from LA to the desert. I'd had an idea for this shot on the airplane to LA. I sketched it out with Beth, and we drove all day to find the perfect "spot." This was it! Beth is only wearing a jacket, because we had just shot portraits before with just underwear. It was really cold! 

Ace Hotel, Palm Springs California.

Natural. Really early in the morning. Pool Club. Where was everyone? I had too much coffee and had trouble holding the camera still to get a composed, straight shot. 

Back alley behind my apartment.

Derek Brown, my boyfriend. Shoot for Transgressor Magazine's Instagram Residency. I wanted to do a mock Couture shoot using trash instead of fabric. Derek is the best model. Before this, I attempted to tape bananas on him, but it didn't work, because he has too much chest hair. I settled for paper. 

Golf course.

Somewhere between set up and natural. Rachel, modeling hair flower arrangements. I wanted to do something more abstract, so I asked her to pose looking at her shadow on a pile of sand. I flipped the image to make it more dynamic.

Kiddie Pool spray painted black.

Posed. Xavier was my model for this shoot called "Black Water Suit." We conceptualized the idea together, and he made the suit. We painted the pool black and got black balloons as a prop to look like black bubble gum. It was hard for me to direct him, because his ears were underwater, and I was screaming for him to hear me ask him where to look. The shoot is for a collaborative project with New York photographer Meg Watcher called "Elemental." The project was shown in New Orleans, Sept.22

The Road, California.

Beth and I on the way to Joshua Tree to find a room to sleep for the night. This bend was so pretty and so quiet my ears started ringing. We got out of the car and took turns sitting in the road, seeing if cars would ever come around the bend. Beth played me her new band, Susan. It's really good. She plays bass. She lives in LA now, I miss her a lot. This shot is part of an ongoing project between the two of us called Our Place. 

Beach in Malibu.

Posed. Beth and Katie. Beth put the towel over her head, and I set up the chairs by the water. I posed them under the towel. I took several shots with the wave breaks, finally pacing my shots with the ocean. They were laughing so hard, then I was laughing so hard! Right after this, I sent the shot to Love Inks, as a test for a possible album cover for their new record, Generation Club. The photo is the cover of the new album, following tradition of their first record, E.S.P, which I shot as well.