I had the opportunity to go and listen to former U.N. Photographer John Isaac present at Lehigh University on Thursday September 3, 2015
After a last minute room change that I only found out about from a Lehigh student who also found the new room assignment (what’s a little confusion for a photojournalist right?) and a brisk uphill walk on a near 90 degree late summer day I arrived.
As soon as John started speaking, you could hear the passion for photography in his voice. The above slide might be hard to see (taken with a cell phone camera) but it outlines is photobiography up until present.
One of his many stories that I found amusing is how he started working at the U.N. Before then he was playing a guitar at a public terminal for donations and someone told him about a messenger job at the U.N. With only 2 weeks left on his Visa he took the job.
At some point not too long after that, someone at the U.N. handed him a camera and said we need some pictures of something. So he took some pictures and they loved them. That landed him a job in the darkroom for 12 years. After that he started photojournalism assignments that took him in over 100 countries of the world.
He also became friends and photographed some famous people. At one point he was the official photographer for Michael Jackson. Michael wanted him to photograph “what he couldn’t see.” Audrey Hepburn seen in the photo above this one.
His passion is photographing tigers of which he has done several times. He will be returning to do more in the fall while the U.N. TV and a film crew follow him around to create a documentary.
John is currently an Olympus visionary and shoots with the E series. He also talked about wanting to come back to Bethlehem and do more with the attendees in the future.
John Isaac is an Indian-born, award-winning photographer and author who currently resides in New York City. In addition to being known for his work as a photojournalist for the United Nations, he is also known for his independent freelance work photographing celebrities and more recently, he has been working mainly in wildlife and travel photography.