Hope some of you have seen Jasmeen Patheja‘s portfolio and artist’s statement. We are looking for other emerging artists, writers, photographers and designers.
Next up on Tiffinbox will be one-on-one interviews with practicing and seasoned photographers, artists, writers and designers. Questions will be answered, links will be provided, portfolios will be exhibited. It will be a feast for your eyes!
First up is John Isaac. An introduction of John Isaac from the FOTOFUSION 2004 web site:
John Isaac, a celebrated award winning photojournalist and documentary photographer, has traveled to more than 100 countries in his photographic career. After almost 30 years with the United Nations he retired as chief of the Photo Unit in 1998. He continues to pursue his humanitarian concerns, but after years of documenting strife, carnage and starvation, he is pointing his camera at more aesthetic subjects these days, such as scenics and wildlife. A native of India, his worldwide coverage includes the Israeli/Lebanon conflict in 1978, the Vietnam boat people in 1979 and the US/Iranian hostage crisis in 1980. In the ‘80s he worked throughout the African nations covering drought and famine, and more recently his many assignments included the Kurdish refugees and the Gulf War in 1991, Bosnia and the conflict in Yugoslavia in 1992-94, and the ethnic carnage in Rwanda in 1994. Among his many awards are Best Outdoor Photograph in 1991 from Graphis magazine, 1993 PMA Photographer of the Year, Kodak Int’l Professional Showcase Award in 1990, thirteen Nikon International Photo Contest prizes from 1977-1996, and in 2000 he received the International Photographic Council’s Lifetime Achievement Award. Isaac’s coverage of Ethiopian famine from 1984-88 won him a prestigious Picture of the Year award from the NPPA/Missouri School of Journalism.
Several years ago, John’s book COORG: The Land of the Kodavas fascinated me, not particularly for its photography which was of course spectacular, but because here was a desi photographer who had arrived. I made a mental note to drum up the courage to speak to him if and when our paths ever crossed.
Sure enough last year, at PhotoPlus Expo, John was signing huge posters of his image from the Day In The Life of Africa project. There wasn’t much of an exchange between the two of us, because he was busy. But I managed to sneak in a little fact about myself – that I had lived in Chennai and I spoke Tamil. His eyes twinkled. “This is my brother,” he told no one in particular but well within ear shot of a long line of other fans. It was my turn to beam in such august company.
John is from Mylapore, a hop, skip and a jump from where I lived in Madras/Chennai. So the connection was made. We exchanged phone numbers and email addresses but his terrificly busy travel schedule didn’t really make it possible for us to meet. I invited him to the SAJA conference. He attempted to stop by but I missed him in the commotion. But several more emails later, he sent me a couple of images from his current project.
John is a digital photography evangelist. The image you see above of a tiger was shot on a digital camera. He is sponsored by Olympus and the new E-1 cameras are all that he now uses on assignment. He no longer shoots for the United Nations but he is in Kashmir … photographing birds off of Dal lake.
But his pursuit of photography is more than pleasure, it’s pure passion.
I asked him about his trip to Kashmir and he said:
“…let me tell you the conditions in Kashmir is not so enviable. I will be freezing my ass off in a house boat where there is no electrical heat and by half an hour after I go to bed the coal heat will die and I will not even feel like getting up to go to the bathroom. I was there in November when it was so cold.”
His advice to young photographers:
“The grass is always greener on the other side. Do not hastily do something that you will regret. It is always great to have a job in hand and pursue all your dreams. When I worked at the UN it was not so green always. I made it green for me. That is the trick to work and life in general. We will have to make things work for us.”
Want t learn more about John Isaac? Come on back and visit us here at TIFFINBOX. Part 2 will have links to his work. Part 3 will be the result of a face-to-face interview – 20 questions – after his return. If you have any particular questions you want answered, please email me at: tiffinbox[at]pipalproductions[dot]com.