Interview: Jack Allan Talks Film, Photography, and the scoop on his "Free Lunch, No Peanut Butter" Photobook

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During the process of reviewing artist submissions for an art submission blog I founded early in January, I came across the twitter account of an interesting photographer, based in Atlanta, Georgia, 21-year-old Jack "Jack Stillz" Allan. What struck me most about this young man was the creativity displayed in his photography, as well as in the way in which he presented some of his finest work in his debut photo book entitled Free Lunch, No Peanut Butter. In reaching out to him, I was given the opportunity to interview Allan regarding his motivation, his various pieces of work, and the photo book itself.

Check out our interview below!

Q: What inspired you to begin photography/videography?

"When I realized that it was a creative outlet that allowed be to further express and explore myself, I was instantly inspired to indulge in it."

The "D. Nowell" Photoset

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Q: What milestones have you reached thus far with your photography and videography?

"Thus far, I’ve shot a few really dope album/mixtape covers. If you were to google me today, quite a bit of info comes up... I guess that’s always neat. I was asked to cover this year’s counterpoint festival. Just recently, I was awarded in creative writing for my portfolio."

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/81104269 w=500&h=281]

"I've done quite a few on-the-fly visuals. This one was very different because of the experience I had shooting it. Everything was so real. Literally, every piece of this visual was an exact representation of the place I was in. What made it even more of an experience was the reception I got from the artist and everybody involved. Like people opened up their homes and kitchens to feed us throughout the day and people with seemingly nothing were so happy in their environment. It's special when people make you feel accepted, without all the prejudices and judgements."

[vimeo http://www.vimeo.com/66411736 w=500&h=281]

"This visual was [for me] that moment of confidence. That moment when you actually start believing more in yourself after seeing what you created. It was also a really fun trip, flying out to LA, being in that space for a whole week, and staying at a pretty cool spot in downtown LA."

Q: What are 3-5 goals you have yet to accomplish with your skill?

"At the top of my list is to shoot the cover and spread for a publication, that’d be very rewarding personally and for business. Along with that, I want to put out a coffee table book."

Q: What are some of your favorite tasks you complete as a photographer?

"I really enjoy several aspects of photography. One would definitely be putting a shoot together. I usually seek out a model, find the clothes, and come up with a theme. After that, editing is usually fun. There is where I can refine or redefine the original theme. It’s all very pleasing."

"Bowie's... In Sync" Photoset

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Q: Do you intend on making photography your career or do you have other career plans? if yes, what are they?

"Photography to me, is a way of telling stories. I see myself as a storyteller. But I won’t just limit that to photography--- film and writing are two other mediums of storytelling that are very important to me."

Q: What is in store for your followers to look forward to?

"Right now I’m working on my next few photo books and a short film. All the updates are usually on my website. I don’t know if this directly relates to the excitement of people who follow my work, but I am learning HTML/CSS."

...In terms of the "Free Lunch, No Peanut Butter" photo collection you have on your website...

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Q: Do you know how many times this collection has been downloaded?

"Yeah, I do. I’m notified of every download through my email. Actually, I’m sending out something personal for those who did download the photo book from my site."

Q: I see there is an intro included which briefly describes the meaning of "Free Lunch, No Peanut Butter," but what exactly inspired you to create this collection? What sparked in your mind to make you say, I want to photograph these artists and write these stories?

"The idea behind the collection was a snapshot of the body of work I had done over the span of a year. Like, this is Atlanta through my lens and experiences. I crossed paths with all of the artists in the book over the course of that time. I’m sure nobody really knew it would come together as a collective, but it made sense to present it that way when I sat and thought about it."

Q: What exactly do you hope to achieve with this collection? 

"Honestly I feel like it won’t be fully appreciated until later in time. For now, I think it proved to myself and other people that I could put together a cohesive body of work. I think that equals respect. And since a photo book isn’t really something that is floating around everywhere in the world I live in, I look at it as a precedent of what’s to come."

Q: Which artists were your top 3 favorite to cover in this collection and why?

"Off the top of the head, I would say Money Makin’ Nique, Jose Guapo, and Miloh Smith. Nique, because he was one of the first people I shot in my studio, so what we got was a bunch of stuff molded from figuring out what works and what doesn’t. The photos of Jose were fun because of the experience attached with it. I got to take a piece of his perspective away from that shoot, so I know how and why he thinks about certain things. Lastly, shooting Miloh was a favorite more because I really liked how the images turned out; less so because the images for the cover shoot got scrapped for another idea."

Q: Do you plan to create another photo book similar to this one?

"No, not in the near future. I’m doing more photo books, but the content and themes are different from this particular one."

Be sure to get in contact with Jack Allan via his website, or twitter!

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