of Margaret Jackson,
by Karen Reider
thrills with his voice. Anne Rice chills with her words. Shakespeare
breathes life into the theater. Margaret Jackson, Sedona's resident
photographer, takes you to far away places - with her lens.
past 10 years, Jackson has made a home amongst, and with the
help of, the red rocks of Sedona. Her magnificent photos of
Bell Rock, Cathedral Rock and Courthouse Butte, to name a few,
adorn greeting cards sold throughout the area.
love of photography began at 19 while attending the University
of Denver. She was dating a fellow student of graphic arts at
that time and invited him to a family gathering celebrating
Jackson and her sister's birthday. At the party she asked if
she could use his 35 mm camera to take a few shots.
in the outcome, and it wasn't long before a camera became a
permanent part of her life.
Jackson bought her first Minolta. Unlike most cameras today,
it didn't have a built-in light meter. Having to use a chart
to figure out the light left plenty of room for trial and error.
Jackson recorded every single picture she took, what the light
conditions were, and what F-stop (lens setting) she used.
she decided to leave her home in Colorado and set off for life
in California. Secretly, she didn't think she'd last more than
six months, but life in the Bay area quickly captured her. Working
a 9-to-5 job as a graphic artist sustained her and taking photographs
It was 27 years before the call of Sedona would beckon. Jackson
had a meditation teacher who often brought people to Sedona
for obvious reasons. She was never able to go with them but
consistently heard enthusiastic reports of Sedona's distinctive
beauty. No one had ever brought back pictures of the red rocks
however, so she didn't have a clue what it actually looked like.
summer of '89, after a trip back to Colorado, she decided she
would visit Sedona on the way back. Making reservations at a
Bed and Breakfast, Jackson arrived on a very hot July afternoon.
around a bit she headed for legendary Boynton Canyon. Hiking
far into it, she visited the impressive medicine wheel that
once graced that land. As she was walking back, Red Rock Fever
was already making its way into her blood.
a newspaper and began looking at homes for sale. Believing it
was just her love and interest in new homes, she didn't think
too much about it. Before long, she was meeting a local realtor
in the Village of Oak Creek to look at some Neal Klein spec
homes. As she stood in the middle of the home, she heard herself
say, "I think I'm going to buy this house!"
Before she knew it, Jackson was putting money down on it as
if it was her plan all along. The realtor, who wasn't quite
as sure as she was, told her that if she changed her mind once
she was back in California, he would refund her money. Evidently
he had seen this kind of behavior before with less tenacious
people than Jackson.
on her way back that if anything went wrong at all, if there
were any obstacles, she would take that as a sign and stay in
California. So, she returned on a Sunday. . . Put the house
up with a realtor on Monday. . . Had open house on Tuesday .
. . and two buyers for full price by Thursday!
Jackson said "Well, I guess I'm moving to Sedona."
In December of '89, she was here to stay. She knew she wanted
to do her photography full-time and had a plan to make it work.
The red rocks were covered in snow and her first pictures reflected
the magnificent beauty that time of year presents.
around the rocks with camera gear and her new born enthusiasm,
Jackson was armed with all she would need to set her dream in
motion. She developed a clean, simple, decorative border for
her 3 1/2"x5" prints, which she still uses to this day. Having
patience and determination, she proceeded through the next three
seasons, shooting and collecting breathtaking photographs she
would use on her greeting cards.
During this time, she kept incredibly busy with her new home
as well. Jackson loves and takes pride in the landscaping of
her domicile, surrounding herself with greenery and flowers
- not an easy task in the desert climate of Arizona.
In the latter part of 1990, Jackson solicited her first client,
Barbara Rycus of Rycus Stationers in the Village of Oak Creek.
A bit shy and unsure of herself she still managed to make a
sale. Once you have seen Jackson's photographs, it is easy to
understand why Rycus was eager to carry them.
That first year, Jackson grossed a whopping $700. But, it would
take more than a lack of money to discourage this woman. "It
takes a lot of tenacity to make it here," she affirmed. "But
I have a good product that I work really hard at and eventually
it paid off."
sells more and more of her cards, prints and newly created Sedona
screensavers (for computers) every year. The Chapel of the Holy
Cross is her biggest customer. The little gift shop there creates
one third of all the business Jackson does in Sedona.
years ago there was a fire at the Chapel. After it was repaired
and a gift shop was built, Deacon Bob wanted Jackson's photo
greeting cards to sell there. He had seen one of her Chapel
pictures in Somerset Stationers and called her to see if she
time Jackson had just three photos of the Chapel. Once again
she set out to create an awe inspiring collection of photos
that adorn many of the greeting cards available in the gift
shop today. She believes she must have the largest selection
of Chapel pictures ever taken.
life, Jackson likes to keep her photography simple. She doesn't
use many lenses, nor many cameras. Preferring her old Nikon
FE, which hasn't been made since 1982, she recently acquired
a Nikon FA (exited 1986). She favors the use of manual cameras
because they give her more control and freedom in her shots.
exposures are another reason manual cameras work well for her,
and anyone who has seen their notable beauty can understand
why. While only one out of 200 double exposures will make there
way to cards or prints, Jackson is not easily discouraged. Currently
she is sitting on a roll of millennium full moon shots that
she is methodically shooting scenery over. She claims it's "all
a crap shoot," but I'm sure they are something we can all look
past 10 years, Jackson has taken over 30,000 negatives and 10,000
slides. Just 100 of them grace her modest product line. She
has kept her business small, preferring to do it all herself,
but this has not kept her from prospering.
she has combined efforts with Larry Brush and created a magnificent
screensaver series. Boasting 133 pictures, 104 of Sedona and
29 of the Grand Canyon, computer users are gracing screen with
these exquisite images
the Red Rock Review have been oohing and aahing Jackson photos
on the cover of the paper since its inceptions. No one seems
to tire of the breathtaking selections.
challenge these days is keeping herself inspired. "There are
just so many pictures one can take of the same scenery before
they being to look the same," she claims. While she never loses
site of the incredible beauty we lucky residents see on a daily
basis, she is always seeking new inspiration. "It seems that
no matter how many new photos I take, the old stand-bys of the
famous rocks sell the best."
to imagine why this is so when we remember what it was like
the first time we set eyes on Cathedral Rock - one of the most
photographed places in the United States.
scenery remains her favorite expression of photography and she
doesn't have any interest in shooting anything else. Surrounding
herself, her home and her life with art, sculpture and natural
beauty is a constant. She delights her friends with occasional
slide shows, set to music on a large screen in her home but
has no plans to take this commercially.
what's next for Margaret Jackson? She smiled slyly when I asked.
She tells me she is laying low right now, patiently waiting
for new inspiration to take hold of her. I couldn't help but
feel she had something up her sleeve she wasn't divulging. Certainly
it doesn't concern her fans; we have plenty to look at while
work is sold throughout Sedona in such fine establishments as
Swift Photo in Uptown, Old Pueblo West, Sedona Arts Center,
Chapel Gift Shop, Enchantment, Coffee Pot Restaurant, Robert
Shields, Sedona Market, and many others.