Poet Marcus Jackson on Photographing Columbus’ Streets

At the age of 32, I worried deeply for months about the survival of my wife and our in-utero child. Knowledge of my wife’s previous spinal and abdominal surgeries filled me with a biting anxiety and a powerlessness I hadn’t felt since youth, when I watched my parents and family members struggle as new laws and economic policies put communities of color in fresh peril. Now an adult working as an adjunct English instructor, my worry for the health of our growing family manifested in constant motion, missed sleep and overdone chores. I cleaned and recleaned, triple-checked the bolts holding together the yet-to-be-used crib, and read everything I could find about pregnancy.

Thankfully, mother and child both endured the birth and soon found full health.

Though money was tight, we decided to buy our first camera. The documentation of our only child’s development and future interactions seemed essential. We cross-shopped all the camera and electronics stores in town. Neither of us had ever photographed with anything more than a small point-and-shoot, and the bulk of my photographic experience lay in the hazy days of the 1990s with disposable FunSaver cameras. We settled on a semi-professional digital camera at significant discount and with a track record of reliability and intuitiveness, along with a compatible, cheap 50mm lens. The whole setup cost less than a new iPhone costs today.

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