John Jackson, NotStock Photography, not stock photography, automotive photographer

5 Minutes With John Jackson

Even if you’re not familiar with John Jackson, you’ve undoubtedly seen his dramatic photos in automotive magazines ranging from Street Trucks to The Rodder’s Journal – as well as regular appearances in the Goodguys Gazette and right here on Fuel Curve. Shooting under the name NotStock Photography, Jackson’s images have been in regular circulation for more than two decades now.

Besides having a keen eye and a desire to learn new techniques, one key to Jackson’s success is his mobility. He lives on the road in a Mercedes RV dubbed the Homewrecker, zig-zagging around the country visiting shops, attending events, and finding the coolest cars to photograph in compelling scenes. Thanks to COVID-19, he’s had the good fortune this year to be joined by his wife, Jacy.

John Jackson, NotStock Photography, not stock photography, automotive photographer

We got John Jackson to sit still long enough to ask him about his time on a pit crew, his favorite meals, and his epic beard.

John Jackson, NotStock Photography, not stock photography, automotive photographerGoodguys Gazette: How did you get started photographing cars and trucks? Do you remember the first photos you sold to a magazine?

John Jackson: I’ve been taking pictures since I was a kid because my mom had cameras and I’ve always been into cars, so it just felt natural for me to start taking pictures of cars. My first published photos were in the late-’90s. It was a lucky moment. The editor of the magazine couldn’t make it to the show I was at, so I had the opportunity to submit my first feature.

GG: You used to work on a pit crew. What was the most interesting thing about that experience?

Jackson: When you’re 20 years old and on the Hooters race team, of course the most interesting part is all the free chicken wings! Oh yeah, and I’ve been on fire twice.

GG: Are there things you learned on the pit crew that have helped your photography career?

Jackson: The best thing I learned is to always pay attention to my surroundings because everything moved fast. Now, I have my head on a swivel. When I’m shooting rolling shots, autocross, or burnouts, I have a sixth sense for when stuff’s going to happen.

GG: Many enthusiasts remember your old custom Corvair van. How many miles did you put on that? How many do you have on the Homewrecker?

Jackson: I think I’m more infamous than famous for driving a Corvair van everywhere, but I drove mine 170,000 miles in a little over four years. Custom painted on airbags, no heat and no A/C, all over the country with a 102hp stock motor. Homewrecker, I’m actually driving right now and I’m dictating these answers to my wife, Jacy, while we cruise down the road. It says we’re at 211,228 miles and it’s a 2016 that I’ve driven for three years.

John Jackson, NotStock Photography, not stock photography, automotive photographer

GG: How has the pandemic affected your travel?

Jackson: I live in a van, so quarantining hasn’t been an issue. The biggest change is that my wife has been with me since March while she’s teleworking. I think we’re going to be in our 24th state this week and we’ve driven over 30,000 miles since March. Amazing builds are still being built and our clients still need content, so luckily there’s work to do. But man, I sure miss going to car shows.

GG: What’s your favorite driving music?

Jackson: This really isn’t an easy question because I listen to everything. Right now, I’m really digging an older album by Lucinda Williams: Live at the Fillmore.

John Jackson, NotStock Photography, not stock photography, automotive photographer

GG: Do you have a go-to meal to cook in the RV?

Jackson: Steak. We try to find really good steak that I sear and pan fry in butter. Any leftovers turn into fried rice.

GG: You’ve traveled all over the country – do you have a favorite region?

Jackson: This is the question everyone asks and it’s tough because every state has something we love. I do love going to Burnet, Texas. I have great friends there who let me steal power from their house while I’m parked in the driveway. Lajitas, Texas and Big Bend State Park is somewhere we go at least twice a year to hang out with my favorite bartender, Logan. If you go to Lajitas, you’ve probably met Logan. The town is famous for their mayor, a goat named Clay Henry. I’m not from Texas, but it’s the first state that felt like home. I do have the key to the city of Galva, Illinois, so shout out to Galva!

John Jackson, NotStock Photography, not stock photography, automotive photographer

GG: What restaurants will you drive out of your way to eat at?

Jackson: On this trip, I drove two and half hours out of the way to Tyler’s Barbeque in Amarillo, Texas, because it was Thursday. Thursday is mac ‘n cheese day and it’s great.

John Jackson, NotStock Photography, not stock photography, automotive photographer

GG: Your beard is almost as famous as your photos. Any tips for maintaining long whiskers?

Jackson: It’s a garden, let it grow. I use whatever the wife puts in the shower, nothing too fancy. Why do I have a beard? It started when I took the Corvair van to SEMA. I cleaned myself up, shave and a haircut, to look more “presentable.” My mentor, magazine editor Courtney Halowell called me a sellout for changing my appearance. I wouldn’t be where I am today without his advice, so I told him I wouldn’t shave the next year. He passed away before that happened, so I haven’t shaved since.

GG: After so many years on the road, do you ever see yourself settling down and living in one place?

Jackson: I’m living my dream and doing what I feel like I was born to do. I’ll probably keel over taking pictures trying to get that perfect angle.

John Jackson, NotStock Photography, not stock photography, automotive photographer

Follow John Jackson on Instagram at @notstockphoto for more as he continues to travel the country and capture great images!

Editor, Goodguys Gazette

Damon Lee began snapping photos at car shows when he was 10, tagging along with his father to events throughout the Midwest. He has combined his passion for cars and knack for writing and imagery into a 20-year career in the automotive aftermarket, writing for titles like Super Chevy and Rod & Custom and, more recently, working for respected industry leaders Speedway Motors and Goodguys Rod & Custom Association.