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This project in particular has been a long time in the works and I’m excited to finally get it out here on the blog. Our dear friends at Shear Chaos Salon here in Appleton chatted with us several months back about the possibility of shooting a series of promotional shots for their staff. Being in need of new images to showcase their off-centered style and overwhelming sense of humor, they approached us with an idea to do a circus-themed shoot.

What? A circus shoot? Can it be dark and creepy? Can it involve knives?

Hells yes. Sign me up!

We loved the idea from the onset and began to bounce conceptual ideas off each other. With over a month of research into old-school circus acts, set construction, logistical planning, pre-production, lighting tests and shooting.. we finally made the shoot evolve into a reality. And a lot of really great people came together to make this whole thing happen..

From the very beginning, I viewed this project as a body of personal work. Those that know me well, know I derive much of my most visually impacting images from my personal projects. Meaning, work that I shoot on my own time, own dime and the type of stuff that breaks boundaries from the typical day-to-day scope of my photography work. Remember “Murder 101“? Or how about “Jimmy’s Kitchen“? Ridiculous, yes. And again, I looked to this opportunity as a mutual offering between Shear Chaos and I. We each walk away with images we can use to market ourselves. We each have something unique that will attempt to set ourselves apart from the crowd. And we had the chance to be ourselves, let humor prevail and true creativity flow freely.

I’ll kick this off with a little behind the scenes video:

Of the 1900+ photos we shot, here is the final product:

Tobin – The Ring Master

Scott – The Strongman

Jillian – The Beast Tamer

Heidi – The Gypsy

Addey – The Human Target

Nikki and Jess – The Clowns

The Circus of Chaos

Stayed tuned for PART TWO, where I will go into depth about the nerdy technical stuff that went into the shoot..



  1. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 6:29 pm | Permalink

    That crystal ball kicks butt. Great idea.

  2. Hannah Richard
    Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 6:30 pm | Permalink


  3. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Seriously, you’re a rockstar of rockstars. This is inspiring.

    And I was wondering about your technical aspects so I can’t wait to see it! :)


  4. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 6:35 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely killer. Literally, they seem like they are all going to kill me… ;) .

  5. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 6:38 pm | Permalink

    Holy cow batman!

  6. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 7:00 pm | Permalink

    Definitely got my interested peaked for part ii!

  7. Melanie
    Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 7:37 pm | Permalink

    Awesome baby! Love it!

  8. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 7:41 pm | Permalink

    Wow. And that’s all I can say!

  9. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 8:08 pm | Permalink

    You just elevated yourself to true rockstar level. Awesome, stunning. Wow!

  10. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 9:01 pm | Permalink

    Wow. This is – wow. However, that right there is why clowns scare the shit out of me.

  11. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Dude… This is in a league of its own. Amazing work, and that Shear Chaos crew is awesome.

  12. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 10:17 pm | Permalink


    Without questions, these are some of my most favorite shots of yours. Love the concept, love the light & colors, & love the characters. Great, great job.
    Thanks always for sharing….


  13. Posted 19 Sep ’10 at 10:25 pm | Permalink

    Dave~ This *is* dark and creepy. It’s very well executed. You have an amazing talent!

  14. Summer
    Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 4:03 am | Permalink

    OMG! WOW!!! These pictures are AMAZING! Great Job everyone! You all look absolutely FANTASTIC!!!

  15. Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 7:32 am | Permalink

    Holy Smokes! The first knife throwing image is amazing!

  16. Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    F’n awesome!

  17. Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 7:46 am | Permalink


  18. Nic
    Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 10:11 am | Permalink

    Wow, guys these are awesome! This should be in a magazine. I don’t think we could take Illa to this circus cause it is too scary. I’m going to have knightmares myself.

  19. Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 10:55 am | Permalink

    Great work. Bad ass, even. The story all comes together and ends with those two amazing group shots. Love the very last one, so much movement and emotion in it.

  20. kate
    Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 1:02 pm | Permalink


  21. Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 2:38 pm | Permalink

    So amazingly cool! Love this everyone! Such a fun and creative but different way to promote yourself!

  22. Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 2:44 pm | Permalink

    this is friggen awesome!!

  23. claire
    Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 7:58 pm | Permalink

    These are complete genius as only you could pull off Dave. Freaking amazing!

  24. Currin
    Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    guys this is absolutley amazing! i am so so so impressed….u all look incredible, and the idea is just perfect!!! :)

  25. kim
    Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 8:12 pm | Permalink

    One of the MOST creative video’s and pictures I have seen in a long long time…very talented crew!!!!! Will you photograph all my grandchildren????? (8) :)

  26. Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 8:50 pm | Permalink

    @Kim .. 8 grandkids? Yikes. That may be a chore. I don’t know how dark I can take kids though..

    Thanks all for the awesome comments!

  27. Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 9:17 pm | Permalink

    WOW. This is fantastic! Dark? Yup. Creepy? Yup. Pure awesome. Go you, Dave. And your own circus of awesome helpers.

  28. lynn
    Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 9:56 pm | Permalink

    Yes yes yes yes yes!! The clowns are my favorite.. the light on the end of the knife.. awesome. Mostly though, the photography is just spot on. You make it look easy. Well done sir.

  29. Posted 20 Sep ’10 at 11:59 pm | Permalink

    Wonderfully creative.

  30. Desmond
    Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 12:46 am | Permalink

    Great job like said before those clowns are like straight out of a nightmare very scary love em

  31. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 1:42 am | Permalink

    Oh wow!

    This is awesome! Pure freeaaaking genius!
    Love it man, great work!

    Creepy clowns rock!


  32. earl
    Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 3:52 am | Permalink

    that was pretty awesome. when i saw the photos I thought it was actually in a circus tent but you did that just in the garage?! amazing. I actually laughed out loud at the “…after a workout program” line, that was funny.

    great stuff and thank you for the BTS.

  33. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 4:26 am | Permalink

    This is just amazingly awesome! Loved watching the BTS video and the endresults are way cool!!!

  34. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 6:00 am | Permalink

    That’s some creapy bunch of folks there!

    Inspiring stuff,


  35. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 6:17 am | Permalink

    Frickin’ SWEEEEEET David!

    I am going out on a personal project shoot today and this post has me jazzed about it and something else I hope to make happen.

  36. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 6:32 am | Permalink

    David… Brilliant as usual. Fantastic!

  37. Adam
    Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 7:41 am | Permalink

    Please tell me you’re going to produce a set of vintage carnie posters to go with these photos, and where I can buy them.

  38. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 7:45 am | Permalink

    Just when I start to get in a funk about photography I see this. This would have been a dream shoot for me. Well done. Thanks to David Hobby you have a new fan.

  39. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 8:06 am | Permalink

    I shot a wedding in June and these guys were the stylists. They are a riot! Awesome job! I saw you painting the curtain and it turned out great! Good job as always! :)

  40. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 9:14 am | Permalink

    I’m officially a fan of your work! Love the concept and thanks for sharing the shoot!

  41. Jai
    Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 10:16 am | Permalink

    Damn…this rocks!!!! Wish I could have been there…you all executed it to the tee!!!

  42. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 10:41 am | Permalink

    Awesome! Thats amazing…

  43. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 11:18 am | Permalink

    Wow. Amazing images. Love it all. Can’t wait for part II since I’m learning how to use studio lighting!

  44. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 11:25 am | Permalink

    I recommended you (David E. Jackson) to a few of my friends as a potential shooter for their wedding next year – and literally an hour later, this post appears in my inbox. Crazy. Awesome.

  45. Mis
    Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 12:25 pm | Permalink

    Looks good. From my point the crystall ball is looks like a \plastic\ with this efect. BUT in general great work Man. Michael

  46. Che Correa
    Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    WOW!! I love this shoot!! very awesome!

  47. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 7:42 pm | Permalink

    Dude!!! I have no words. You are my hero! Don’t tell my husband.

  48. rajuncanajun
    Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 8:36 pm | Permalink

    I absolutely love it! Not only is your lighting perfection but I don’t think you could of had better spot on subjects.

  49. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 9:27 pm | Permalink

    Thanks for stealing my work….I will hear from you soon.


  50. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 10:30 pm | Permalink

    @John – Seriously holmes. You’re a bit to hyped up on the Brooks brochure ink. Do your research. You’ll find you weren’t the first nor will you be the last to have used the knife throwing theme. Please have Chris Orwig sit you down and give it to you straight.


  51. Posted 21 Sep ’10 at 11:42 pm | Permalink

    The right way to start a day! A lot of inspiration in these images. Great!

  52. Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 1:15 am | Permalink

    Great lightning, idea, like it very much… :D :D:D:D

  53. BH
    Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 5:06 am | Permalink

    Their both circus themes but that’s where the similarities part. Great work.

  54. BH
    Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 5:09 am | Permalink

    They’re I mean…

  55. Paul
    Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 5:32 am | Permalink

    With regards to the alleged ‘theft’ of ideas here, both shoots were based around stereotypes and conventions, in this case the circus theme. Since both shoots rely on this there really cannot be any argument for plagiarism in my eyes. Maybe if there were some original ideas, stylings or set design in one of the shoots, but there isn’t, it’s just based on original themes which have been seen before. Maybe Leibovitz has a case here then, with her White Stripes photo? Just my opinion. Love the salon shoot.

  56. Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 7:23 am | Permalink

    Dave, this is awesome!!!!

  57. Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 1:04 pm | Permalink

    Wow! That is a really amazing set of shots and very well executed. And the behind the scenes video is great too. The lighting in the shots is great. Thank you for sharing.

  58. Dave Jackson
    Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 1:51 pm | Permalink

    Nice job taking a “classic” idea and executing with great precision and making your own. I love the gritty, almost cartoonish images. Jonathan Barnard’s claim of theft is pretty damned amusing… particularly since it invites unflattering comparisons of his work to yours. So this shoot provides double the entertainment! I continue to learn from and be inspired by your shenanigans in Appleton.

  59. Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 3:17 pm | Permalink

    Absolutely amazing stuff here. A real inspiration.

  60. JustinC
    Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 4:29 pm | Permalink

    Great stuff man, what a well done concert. great bts.

  61. Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 5:54 pm | Permalink

    Awesome execution!!!


  62. Posted 22 Sep ’10 at 8:21 pm | Permalink

    Great job,love it!

  63. Posted 23 Sep ’10 at 7:33 am | Permalink

    This shoot is so unbelievable awesome! Brilliant results…

  64. Neal
    Posted 24 Sep ’10 at 9:49 am | Permalink

    David, what an awesome peice of work mate :-) I loved it, right from the very concept to the finish. I also loved your choice of music, the Gogol Bordello’s are fab. If you have time could you tell me the track on your intro please? The one with the lyris I hit the road in a 52 4 a pack of mayches and a postcard on the floor.

    Keep up the great work.



  65. Posted 24 Sep ’10 at 1:05 pm | Permalink

    How much therapy did you require after this shoot? These captures are fantastic! The setting, the mood, the cast of characters all came together here!

    Looking forward to the next part, I’ll make sure all the lights are on and I’ve taken my sedatives:)

  66. Posted 24 Sep ’10 at 3:56 pm | Permalink

    I love the lighting on the fortune teller !

  67. Linda
    Posted 25 Sep ’10 at 7:40 am | Permalink

    This is really cool. It should be put on tv. I think you all should be this for halloween. Addi I think you can be a model. I love this video and photos. you all rock……

  68. Posted 26 Sep ’10 at 12:37 pm | Permalink

    Saw a link to this on Lighting Essentials. Awesome. Amazing work.

  69. The Supreme Dalek
    Posted 26 Sep ’10 at 7:51 pm | Permalink

    Fabulous images! Awesome concept! May well put the client out of business — do you really want to relax in a salon chair while creepy clowns with scissors inflict chaos on your hair, and possibly the rest of your person? — but hey, it’ll look fab in the portfolio!

  70. Posted 26 Sep ’10 at 7:56 pm | Permalink

    This is a super easy set up and concept, these could be taken any where! I am so jealous that he thought of this before me! It looks like tons of fun… So great! If your ever needing an assistant, hit me up!!!

  71. Jack Feldman
    Posted 30 Sep ’10 at 4:58 am | Permalink

    the ring leader has good taste in whiskey.

  72. sashank l
    Posted 2 Oct ’10 at 11:21 pm | Permalink

    seriously inspiring!!!:P

  73. Posted 9 Oct ’10 at 5:22 am | Permalink

    Love the first shot of the human target!
    All are great shots!

  74. ML
    Posted 25 Oct ’10 at 5:08 pm | Permalink


  75. Posted 3 Dec ’10 at 8:11 am | Permalink

    Thank you for sharing! I love the subject. Where did you find that tent backdrop? Also, to use Gogol Bordello in the video was a great idea. One of my favorites this year!

  76. Elizabeth Brady Davis
    Posted 5 Jul ’11 at 11:58 pm | Permalink

    Are you kin? I was randomly googling for “David Edward Jackson”, the founder of Jackson Hole, WY. I’m from the family he abandoned in VA.

    Love the pics.

  77. Posted 21 Oct ’11 at 10:44 am | Permalink

    Wondering if I can include one of your photos from the circus shoot in an Animoto presentation I am creating for a freshman English class. With respect to copyright, I only use either copyright free images or contact the creator for permission. Your photos are amazing.

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