Jack-Be-Nimble (Part 1)

From Sea to Shining Sea

I was, humbly and gratefully, born, January 3, 1954, 9.10pm, at the Cape Cod Hospital, in Hyannis, Massachusetts, to the proud parents of John Alexander Hollingsworth Jr, age 26, from Peabody, Massachusetts, and Nancy Brackett, age 25, from Portsmouth, New Hampshire.

The Cape Cod Hospital is within walking distance from Hyannis Harbor and its rhythmic tides, squawking herring seagulls, and mesmerizing smells of fried seafood.

I swear, in utero, surrounded by a different body of water, I heard the sound of Ferry steam whistles, departing Hyannis to Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard.

I was destined for water.


Without choice in this regard, I was born a Capricorn: ambitious, hardworking, enterprising, practical, goal-oriented, persistent, focused (let’s not forget fussy, stubborn, resistant to change, afraid of failure).

Not surprisingly, from day one, I was surrounded by water. Cape Cod, southeastern Massachusetts, is bounded by Cape Cod Bay to the north, the Atlantic Ocean to the east, Nantucket Sound to the south, Vineyard Sound to the southwest, and Buzzards Bay to the west.

So maybe that is what everyone meant when they called me, “wet behind the ears” 🙂

At least I wasn’t, like most, a wash-a-shore. I was a true-blue native son of Cape Cod.

How ironic that the Capricorn’s symbol, or glyph, is a Seagoat-a creature based on a myth that is half goat and half fish. (I think I might be more fish than goat :))

A Tale of Two Cities

Along with my older sister Pamela (Pam) and younger brother Kenneth (Ken), we grew up, and went to school, in Reading, a town in Middlesex County, Massachusetts, 16 miles (26 km) north of central Boston, with a then-population of around 15-20k.

But, thanks to the tireless and sacrificial efforts of both working parents, we also enjoyed a second, summer home, in South Yarmouth, Cape Cod. For this native son, I always considered this house, on 13 Lambert Road, my true home.

Like most middle-class families of the time, we enjoyed, seemingly non-stop, endless-summer themes of love and laughter-at home, at the beach, in the backyard, at the drive-in, everywhere. Pinch me for the life I lived. It was a blissful time. My summer memories are about as precious and priceless as a child could have. I’m sure my siblings would say the same.

What Made Me Tick and Click

I graduated from Reading Memorial High School in 1972. In 1975, I took my first overseas trip and, fortuitously, had my first exposure to photography.

With my cousin Brian Harrington, we, along with 600 other Merchant Marine Cadets, enjoying a semester-at-sea, set sail, out of Buzzards Bay, to Dublin, Ireland, Rotterdam, Netherlands; onboard the USTS Bay State III (1974–1978) former Empire State IV, former USS Henry Gibbins, all under the leadership of the President of the Massachusetts Maritime Academy, Rear Admiral, USMS, Lee Harrington (my uncle:))

My job, onboard, was dishwashing, peeling potatoes, coring tomatoes, baking bread, playing harmonica, and most importantly, being a self-appointed guardian to my cousin Brian, who, at the time, was a bit wilder than me.

The trip and experience, for both Bran and me, was nothing short of epic.

Before I left, my dad bought me my first camera, a Minolta SRT 101.

It was my very first introduction to the world of creativity, imagination and creation. It stuck.

The photos I took were, not surprisingly, sub-par.

But the creative seed was planted.

Two things, once again, surrounded by water, happened to me, on this trip, that forever changed the trajectory of my life and lifestyle: I fell in love with travel and photography, the two very things that equally make me, even today, tick and click.

Thank you, Dad and Uncle Lee.


Decades later, after moving from Dallas to Austin, with much commercial photography experience under my belt, when the economy and my photography business were both booming, Shannon, the girls and I, bought a gorgeous, house-and-beam home and studio, in Chatham, affectionately named “Northlight”, by a previous owner and advertising photographer-legend, Harry De Zitter. It was special and spectacular, in every sense of the word.

It was the most favorite place I ever lived.

I no longer own this house but her memories live on and strong in me. She is a part of me.

Once again, surrounded by water. The rhythms of the tide would keep pulling me home, back to Cape Cod and back to the sea where I owe my origins and allegiance.

Love At First Sight

Fast forward to February 18, 2011, at 7.02am. My life changed again. This time it was “love at first sight”.

I was shooting a commercial project, at The Crane Resort, with Jesse Knish and Andrew Smith, on the lovely Caribbean island of Barbados.

The evening before, upon arrival, some of the gear we shipped, sadly and frustratingly, didn’t show up. I started the project, the next day, with a camera I wasn’t at all familiar with.

More or less, the next morning, the beginning of our shoot, out of frustration, while the sun was coming up over the horizon, I shot my first real iPhone photo. It was “love at first sight”. Truly. No joke. Seriously. It was my “aha!” moment. I had no idea, of course, at the time, the ramifications and implications, to my career and life, of what I just seen and experienced. But there it was, in full living color. Click.

All I seem to know, with an uncanny sense of surety and calm, at the time, was that, somehow and someway, the iPhone camera would change my life. And it did, bigtime. More than I ever imagined.

From that sunrise moment, until today, I have shot over 1 million photos, on 10 different iPhone camera devices, in over 50 countries of the world.

From sea to shining sea.

The Day Steve Jobs Died

A few months after my Caribbean conversion, I was, serendipitously, surrounded by water again. It was October 5, 2011, the day Steve Jobs died.

I was with my colleagues and fellow-creators, Neil Barham, Manav Lohia, Jonathan Houser. We were sailing on board the 227-passenger Royal Clipper ship, the largest full-rigged sailing ship in the world.

That day, October 5, we were in Lipari-the largest of the Aeolian Islands in the Tyrrhenian Sea off the northern coast of Sicily, southern Italy.

With the passing of Steve Jobs, it’s hard to describe the reflective and contemplative mood I found myself in that day.

Given my newly found lust and love for all things iPhone photography, I felt like I owed Steve’s memory, my full attention and honor. I gave it to him, in full force.

I photographed and wrote, that day, like it was my own last day on earth. It was surreal.

I will never forget the experience. It changed me forever and from the inside-out.

The two lessons that I  took  from that epic day, which will both stay with me until I die (1) Technology is not something we own and do, it is something we are (2) the heart of iPhone photography and filmmaking is emotional.

Old Cape Cod

Long before I was pointing my iPhone cameras at the faces, places and spaces, of this man-made peninsula, called Cape Cod, I was shooting the same subjects, scenes and scenarios with my big cameras.

But, honestly looking back, I was never as emotionally connecting to my work as I am today.

iPhone cameras have connected me, spiritually, psychologically, autobiographically, like no other camera I have ever owned or operated. It’s crazy but true.

For if, truly, art does grow out of the heart, then my beloved Cape Cod, is the ultimate cauldron mix of light, color, design, emotion.

I’m 67 years old and the best is yet to come. The sea-goat in me is alive and well.

I was born on the ocean’s edge. My strongest and best childhood, pubescent and young adulthood memories are sea-faring. I am a sea-goat. Water flows in and through me like rivers of blood. To this very day, I’m still undergoing a sea change. And I am drenched with excitement. My life is good. I owe her everything, from sea to shining sea.



Jack Hollingsworth