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Kim Jackson

By Blake Driver

After being on location with Kim Jackson (formerly Kim Donald) for almost a year now, I still can’t figure out how she gets those shots. She would probably say it’s all due to her trigger finger’s impeccable timing.

“My right finger surprises me sometimes because it just flexes all on its own, no matter where I am or whether I’m holding a camera or not,” she explains. “I think it’s because when I’m just out and about, my finger still thinks we’re trying to capture every great moment.”

I tell her she’s probably just suffering from the same syndrome that befalls every amazing photographer, a little known reflex onset by repeated use of the index finger called shutter-itis. She laughs shortly and then considers it seriously with a finger on her chin — her right index finger which, for the time being, is tranquilly tapping her lower lip.

“It’s possible,” she says finally.

It’s more than possible, considering how many photographs Kim has been taking for over a decade now, first shooting in the closed studio setting at Kim Jew for five years and then on location with Kyle Zimmerman for the next four and a half, all the while gaining a strong client following as well as photo credits in magazines such as People Magazine, Local IQ, La Cocinita, Alibi, Sage and Home Builders Magazine just to name a few. But as a digital photographic artist with her own business, the amount of people, their families, their children, their weddings and their pets that she has photographed in Albuquerque for the past four years is enough to fill up several external hard drives, which she stacks one on top of the other on a shelf in her office. They look like small toy building blocks to a future dollhouse, and it’s hard to imagine that some of the best portraits in Albuquerque are housed in there.

What sets Kim’s photos apart from the rest is her ability to turn her clients — from local fashion designers like Cassandra Montoya of Sangie Designs to prominent business owners such as Patti Hoech of Patrician Designs and diamond guru J. Edwards and onto a whole host of newlyweds and newborns — into real photographic subject matter. With Kim behind the lens, her clients are guaranteed to be photographed by an artist who represents them as, well, art. As an exclusive on-location photographer, Kim has perfected her ability to arrive anywhere at any time of day or night and use each setting for all it’s worth, allowing the unique compositional elements of light and structure to come forth, set the mood and cradle her subjects in striking moments of time and place. As her assistant on some of these shoots, I’ve seen the insides of enough business suites, hotels, parks, coffee shops and homes to understand the full range of settings that she has to work with. And let’s face it, most office cubicles are not the most glamorous settings, but when Kim turns over her proofs, it’s hard to believe the photos weren’t done in a professional studio.

The times I get really jazzed watching her work are when, just as she’s crouched low and about to take a shot, finger poised on the shutter and the suspense in front of her camera built up thick enough to fog her lens, she tells everyone to hold on, she does in fact need to change her lens. She works with a total of five — in size and shape they are, at most, unassuming. But she uses them in the same way that a potter might masterfully make a choice between two miniscule trimming tools that to the untrained eye are basically indistinguishable. To Kim and her clients, they make the biggest difference in the world. In the end, it could be said that her success is due to an abundance of overflowing natural talent and dedication. But she would most likely say it’s all due to her clients, with whom she has developed not only lasting artistic and business relationships but friendships as well. She envisions her business growing while she maintains her stance as the artist behind the lens.

“I will never be a factory,” she assures me repeatedly


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Kim Jackson