Salvador Gonzalez Photography 1 El Camino College W 545 – 1000 November 1, 2006 William Henry Jackson: The Story of an American Photographer Born on April 4, 1893 in New York, William Henry Jackson was a talented and widely recognized American veteran, painter, photographer and explorer. Most of his most famous pieces of art, either paintings or photos, used the American West as their subject. Although being a painter was his primary passion, he put that on hold in order to enroll in the 12th Vermont Infantry and fought in the Civil War. Afterwards, Jackson’s career as a painted was in limbo, so he turned to photography as an alternative. Often scoffed at by his collegues for doing things that were too difficult and unnessary, Jackson persisted in exploring and caputrings the Western Fronteir in photographs. It was because of his tireless effort in capturing these unique snapshots of our country at a young age that William Henry Jackson will be re cognized. William Henry Jackson was the first of what would become seven children for his parents, George Hallock Jackson and Harriet Maria Allen of Keesville, New York. Jackson would then spend his childhood in Troy, New York and Rutland, Vermont. Although it can not be proven, it is believed by some that his mother had some influence on her son as she was a water colorist . The fact that painting became his passion was evident by the time he was in his late teens. INSERT EXAMPLES OF WORK. Although his talent was evident to those who saw his work, Jackson’s pride in his country would cause his career to be placed on hold. Jackson would go on to fight in one of the Gonzalez, 2 most famous battles in our country’s history, but he may have had to sacrifice his career as a painter. In 1862, Jackson was led by Patriosism and became a private in the Company K of 12th Vermont Infantry during the time that the great American Civil War took place. He actually fought in the Battle of Gettysburg. ELABORATE Once his service had ended, Jackson probable had no idea that things would not be easy when it came to going back to his passion of painting. Although Jackson was able to fulfill his patriotic desire to fight for his beliefs, he would soon find that as times changed his career might require a change as well. After the war was over, Jackson returned to Rutland but there was a lack of interest and no demand for his paintings in a Post-War society. Jackson’s career floundered quite a bit in the years that followed the civil war. In addition to this, his personal life was also not at its best as he broke off his engagement with Carolina Eastman. Having lost his career and his fiancé, he decided that there was nothing left to keep him in Vermont and left for good. Although things seemed grim for Jackson both personally and professionally, he would soon see that a new career oppurtunity would arise in the field of photography. William Jackson decided to leave Rutland, Vermont in favor of traveling to the American West. He traveled long to reach the west and it should be noted that it was his travels that opened the door to photography. “In 1866 travelling by Union Pacific Jackson reached its end, a point some hundred miles west of Omaha, where he joined as a bullwhacker a wagon train heading west to Great Salt Lake, on the Oregon Trail. In 1867 he settled down in Omaha, NE and got into photography business with his brother Ed.”1 William and Ed Jackson opened up their first photography studio in 1867 in Omaha. TALK ABOUT HIS BROTHER It was around this time that his photography became famous. He would take two or three day trips to visit Native American tribes such as Osages, Otoes, Pawnees, Winnebagoes and Omahas. He would take photos of the Native Americans in their natualr settings going about their normal lives. The pictures would become highly regarded enough for other offers to come in. In 1869, an offer for Jackon’s use as a commercial photographer came in from the Union Pacific Railroad. The railroad wanted Jackson to take photographs of the scenery on their rail routes from promotional purposes.
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