By: Abby Utley (Loyola Sophomore)
There is no doubt that the COVID-19 pandemic has increased limitations in every occupation, especially for creatives and people who depend on plenty of collaboration to be productive. However, this Loyola University student has maintained a steady photography portfolio that highlights some of the many charms of Chicago.
Kendall L. Jackson Jr. is a junior at Loyola majoring Film and Digital Media production. He was born and raised in Chicago and is “a proud product of the Chicago Public School system.” It was at Senn High School where he first exercised his interest in media production through a Digital Journalism program. He said, “I always loved film and just photography but I was insanely shy and really reserved.” The program helped him break out of his shell, claim his vision, and define his personal style.
In a few short years, Kendall has found his purpose behind the camera. Whether it be a personal photoshoot, clips from a concert, or while hanging out with friends, Kendall has a talent for capturing the perfect moment. Just one picture from an event can represent its entire context beautifully. Kendall then goes on to edit the photos and clips, using borders or music, to further flatter those in the frame. One of his main focuses is the Chicago arts scene. He said, “What I love is the final product of so many creatives…it’s exciting to work with the good ones who care about the culture.” Like his talented subjects, Kendall’s pride for Chicago drives his commitment to uplift the city from within.
In spring of 2019, he co-founded a small video production company called Bored Youth Collective, alongside Loyola student Michael Tinley. Kendall said, “What’s funny about me and Michael is that we lived in the same dorm, crossed paths so many times for the first two semesters, and didn’t talk to each other until really the last couple weeks of spring semester in 2019.”
The two quickly realized their like-mindedness and found their individual places within the business. As the producer, Kendall takes pride in his ability to manage projects with composure and logic. “I’m very behind the scenes and the logistical guy,” he said, “I make sure we have structure and everything is handled business wise.”
Bored Youth Co. aims to capture the essence of young artists, as well as highlight the culture that generates and cultivates their talent. “I love Chicago Rap especially,” Kendall said, “So being a photographer and videographer, you are not far from the next great Chicago storyteller or melodic star.”
Throughout this year, Kendall has continued to conceptualize and deliver content despite the obvious reduction of ideal photo opportunities. “The first lockdown was such a killer in confidence,” he said, “I was off this incredible high from doing work with Champs Sports during NBA All Star Weekend in Chicago.”
He was disheartened that he and Michael didn’t get enough of a chance to immediately use this event as leverage to exacerbate the growth of Bored Youth Collective. The key to maintaining business, however, was to stay connected with artists and clients. One by one, this had a domino effect, which allowed them to stay as productive as possible. He said “It wasn’t a setback to be on lockdown, it was much needed time to reset and get in tune artistically and mentally.”
Kendall had to focus on quality over quantity this year, which is tedious work, but as he said “It’s beauty in the struggle, right?” By making use of pre-lockdown content, Kendall had to innovate a new relevance for these old photos. One example of this beautiful struggle was a recent sale through which he released a sticker pack of five of his favorite photos from 2020 that you can have delivered for free. Some of the photos are from concerts, while others are from Black Lives Matter protests. This was a product of collaboration with other Chicago-based creatives, which Kendall values as a form of cultural expression.
Kendall’s latest project was a Bored Youth Collective music video for Chicago-based artist Rockie Fresh and his song “Stuck in Chicago.” He said, “It’s definitely one of those projects that really showcased our growth with Rockie and how we distinguish ourselves as a brand.” Since it was Michael and his fourth time working with Rockie, there was already a mutual trust among them that helped make planning and shooting run smoothly. “To do one visual is a blessing,” Kendall said, “but to do four with the same artist, who trusts you fully? That’s something you hold on to forever.”
As for what’s in the works, Kendall wants to make 2021 the best year possible, especially for the growth of Bored Youth Co. He also may have a chance to get involved with a future Netflix or Hulu project soon. “It’s very early to really call,” he said, “but it’s very possible at the same time.” Of course, since he is a student, part of his success means keeping up with his academic responsibilities. At any rate, he believes Loyola connections are beneficial to him as an artist.
Kendall values the relationships that have helped him bring his vision into artistic fruition. He is proud to be from Chicago and to be a firsthand witness of its cultural development. “I want to be a part of that history in some way,” he said, “I’m Chicago forever.”
To find Kendall’s work, you can follow his Instagram @hail.ken, as well as @boredyouth.co. If you’re interested in purchasing the sticker pack, there is a link in his bio that directs you to where you need to go. Make sure to keep an eye out on Kendall’s work in the future, as he has some big plans.