Villanova Student Photographer Interview


John Lackey

John Lackey is a skilled photographer and student at Villanova.

Maddie Schieder, Staff Writer

John Lackey sees life through a certain lens. His trusted camera lens, that is. A passionate photographer, the junior political science and history major spends his time finding the perfect shot, using his skills to inspire him on his career and college journey. The Villanovan sat down with this campus photographer to talk to him about this passion and just how his photography journey came to be. 


The Villanovan: How did you get into photography? 


John Lackey: As any passions start, I always had an interest in photography since I was a kid. During high school, I got my first real DSLR, which reignited my interest. At the time, though, I only saw it as a hobby. I would go out with my friends and take pictures of them, but it was nothing spectacular. It started with urban photography. We would go into Atlanta and find abandoned buildings to explore and take pictures of. Along the way, we would make friends with people in the area that knew the secret places or with people doing exactly what we were doing. As my interest in this area of photography grew, my interest in the entire art grew. I then transitioned from portrait and street photography to more nature/landscape and astrophotography as this is what interested me most as a kid. This became my true passion. Since then, I have traveled around the country, usually by car or RV, looking for the darkest skies. It has taken me to 15 national parks so far, and I have the goal of going to every national park in the United States. It’s even led me to buying a bus and working to convert it to an RV in pursuit of these national parks. Currently, I focus on landscape and astrophotography the most. 


TV: What are some ways you have improved your skills? 


JL: The best thing you can do is practice. I don’t mean just go out and shoot, but go out and shoot with purpose. Focus on one thing to improve every time you go out. Do the research and find all the intricacies of your camera. Learn the technical ins and outs, as well as learn your own style (your style will come naturally). That’s what I have done for the past six years or so, and I’ve noticed the most improvement when I’ve gone out and shot with purpose. I think when you do this you can see the improvements, and it fuels you to want to get even better. 


TV: What do you photograph on campus? 


JL: On campus, I primarily do portrait photography, more specifically for sorority and fraternity formals or events. Using this as my job on campus has allowed me to earn money to go to all the amazing places that I’ve been. It’s a way by which I can improve at photography that allows me to work towards my main passion, being landscape and astrophotography. I do love going to events and seeing how happy the pictures make people. I know how much it means to have those memories as well as how appreciated it will be later in life. 


TV: Besides the emotion evoked from your photography, what do you love most about it? 


JL: I would say I have different loves, based upon which medium. For astrophotography, I love being able to see what we can’t normally see. The number of times I’ve had people ask me how edited my night sky shots are and the shock when I tell them ‘not at all’ is priceless. Our eyes are capable of only so much. I think there’s so much out there that we usually miss, and photography can help to bridge that gap. For landscape, I think I love to bring appreciation to the world we live in every day. People don’t realize how amazing nature can be, even nature in our own backyard. The United States is one of the most beautiful places in the world and you can see awe-inspiring things without even leaving the country. Further, I think conservation is extremely important and things such as landscape photography can help to bring awareness of the beauty and fragility of the environment. As a last little tidbit, I love film photography because it has a look that isn’t achievable by any other form of photography. It’s also the most technical form of photography so there’s something even more special when you get amazing shots. 


TV: Do you seek a future in photography? 


JL: I do have hopes for photography in the future. My plans are very tentative, but I have put considerable thought into going into the movie industry. I am extremely lucky to have had the opportunity to do work on various movie and show sets in the past. Most recently, I have done shadow work with the camera operators, still photographers and cinematographers on the show “Ozark.” Getting to see the everyday work and the process that goes into these films and shows has made me consider that line of work much more. I’d also always love to sell prints on the side as it makes me happy to think that other people could enjoy my work enough to want to buy it and keep it in their homes.