Wisconsin photographer David E. Jackson says that Mile of Music, a music festival in the Fox Valley region of Wisconsin, marks his “most anticipated four days of the year.” And that’s not because he gets to don his jean shorts and bucket hat. It’s because for the past two years he’s been getting a special view of the musicians behind the scenes through—you guessed it—his camera.
Mile of Music is a festival that takes place along a mile long strip of downtown Appleton, a strip dedicated to local business and original craft. The musicians of the festival, coming from all over and ranging from folk to indie to R&B, share one rule: no covers. David started working with the festival in its second annual run, teaming with the curator of the Feather and Bone Pop-Up gallery to create a space for these eclectic artists to come through and get their portraits taken. This past year, in keeping with the spirit of original craft and personal creation, David decided to focus his setup on really capturing the personalities of each unique musician.
David created two setups for the artists to choose from—one was dark and open, similar to his setup from the previous year. The other featured each musician at a table with high-key white light. David kept his doors open for three full days without any sort of schedule so that the musicians could come in as they pleased. David also took his photos free of charge and gave the musicians their photos to use however they wanted, something he believes is one of the most worthwhile parts of the project.
The most fulfilling aspect to me is to help bands out by creating photos they might not otherwise have the opportunity to have and use.
The reaction to David’s portraits has been huge. From 2014 to 2015, he saw double the number of musicians come through, and as the Mile of Music festival continues to grow, David expects that so will his portrait clientele. He hopes that some even bigger music names will come through in 2016 for their portraits, and he already has plans for some really cool switch-ups for the coming event. (We don’t get to know just what, yet.)
David plans to keep shooting in the years to come and eventually, make a book showcasing the various portraits of the musicians of Mile of Music.
In the end, I really believe in our little community here in the Fox Valley in northeast Wisconsin and the truly unique community Mile of Music has created.
To view more of David’s work, visit davidejackson.com!