Recent work, old work & professional musings
Boeing's last 747 jumbo jet took off today from Paine Field, next to the Everett plant where the first 747 rolled out in 1969. I've spent hundreds of hours flying around the world on them since I was a little kid. The last plane may be out the door but we'll get to see them in the air for many decades to come. Bon voyage!more
My new bride after our honeymoon in New York, June 1997. Jennifer and I headed to the airport and our return flight to our home in Bangkok; a few months the later we moved to Tokyo. I've always loved this image but finally got a decent scan of it, and love it more. The light, the Twin Towers, my love..
Now it's two kids, a cat, mortgage, college 529s, bed by 930 pm. But watching a dear friend losing his wife of 20-plus years to cancer...more
As Boeing prepares to roll out and deliver its final 747, a cargo version of the plane's final iteration, the 747-800, here's some images I've taken of its construction, delivery and first flight over the past decade. It will always be the most beautiful plane ever built, sleek and elegant, unlike its rather bloated rival the Airbus A380 which I also photographed being developed and built....more
Starting in September, 2022, I teamed up with actor and playwright Mark Jenkins, who first saw Bob Dylan perform in 1963 in Denver, to explore the new Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa. Two Seattle-based Dylan enthusiasts and artists, separated by a generation, Mark and I are traveling around Tulsa and Oklahoma, and will explore how Dylan's art influenced the way we see the world, in words and images. As we wander through the state, with Tulsa as one...more
Another question I always get asked as a photographer of a certain age (say, over 50) is whether I miss film. The answer is no, nope, never. I feel no nostalgia, no sentimentality, nothing. I realize that film is becoming cool again, and I say, go for it kids, but I used it for 25 years, mainly shooting slide film with an exposure latitude of about 1/2 stop, maximum. What does that mean? It means shooting in terrible, contrasty light, like...more
My friend, and awesome photo YouTuber Dan Milnor, often teases me as the last “Nikon man”. Seems I’m a dying breed but I didn't stick with Nikon because I’m a gear fetishist; as I often joke, it’s simply because I know where the buttons are.
I bought my first Nikon in 1982 at age 16, an FM2, after working in Kingston Market in London for...more
Photographs by Stuart Isett. Words by By Dave Seminara
Kurt Cobain felt bored and old. Teenage angst had paid off well, as the line in the Nirvana song “Serve the Servants” put it, but the fame that came with being the frontman of the seminal grunge band that brought punk to the mainstream was taking a toll. Cobain was considered by many to be the voice of his generation, but he was also battling depression and addiction, diseases that...more
Photographs by Stuart Isett. Text by Ron Gluckman. November, 1996
Way out in the wild sulu sea, where robberies and kidnappings are commonplace and the law of sea pirates is the only rule, tribes of aquatic gypsies live their entire lives at sea, touching land only to die.
AS THE SUN SINKS ON THE HORIZON, a wave of anxiety spreads among the...more
Folks always ask me what was my favorite place to visit and photograph, a question I’ve never been able to answer. If they ever asked me where the least favorite place I visited and photographed was, however, I have an easy answer: Mount Diwata, in the southern Philippine island of Mindanao. The "golden mountain," is one of the largest sources of gold in the Philippines and possibly the world, but was nicknamed "Diwalwal" in the local Cebuano...more
If yankii describes a broad category of disaffected Japanese teens who dye their hair, rock retro American styles and act unruly, the bōsōzoku subset are the tough ones. These motorcycle gangs—known for their traffic-snarling group rides and petty crime—have been around since the 1950s but came to prominence in the ’80s and ’90s, especially in southern Japan’s Fukuoka prefecture. Bōsōzoku are also prime recruits for more...more
Feeling the Top Gun vibe this week! Photos from a shoot on the USS Kitty Hawk, as it prepared for deployment to Afghanistan in November, 2001. I was flown out to the Japan-based carrier for a two day assignment for The New York Times as part of its coverage of the aftermath of 9/11. To this day I'm impressed with the men and women who worked on the flight deck, keeping me safe, all while launching F-14s and F-18s. Yet the pilots get all the...more
My now 12 year old daughter always loved to say, "you never know!" when we asked her as a little kid if she'd be coming to our bed that night. Turns out, it's also a handy expression for photo assignments that you accept begrudgingly, mainly to keep a client happy. This assignment was on car salesmen during the...more
Proud to have joined Dorothy Chan on her podcast "Death in Cambodia". Dorothy created the podcast to interview her father and talk about his experiences under the Khmer Rouge during the Cambodian genocide, exploring issues of trauma among Cambodian refugees in the US. It was in that context she wanted to talk about...more
From the Yale Genocide Studies program:
Duch, head of the Tuol Sleng prison complex, was a former schoolteacher named Kang Kech Eav. Duch oversaw a precise department of death. His guards dutifully photographed the prisoners upon arrival and photographed them at or near death, whether their throats were slit, their bodies otherwise mutilated, or so thin from torture and near starvation...more
Mining the archive and coming up with a mining story; a 2008 story shot for The New York Times on the proposed Pebble Mine in Alaska. The proposal to build the mine is controversial and 14 years later, still ongoing. The mine contains large deposits of copper, gold, and molybdenum and is in the Bristol Bay region of Southwest Alaska,...more
Maybe it was a 1990s thing, but I knew photographers who were quite literally crop-nazis, especially in the end days of film and darkrooms. Slicing off so much as a hair of your frame in the darkroom was a photographic sin. Anyone who worked as a documentary photography in the late 1980s and and 1990s was exposed to this - the more you...more
Every photographer's dream assignment is the road-trip photoessay. They're lying if they say otherwise. Hop in a car, hit the road with a camera (and "your" writer), a beat up copy of Kerouac's "On the Road" (confession: I've never read) and search out the small town America of your imagination. I've only done a few such shoots, mostly in Asia, but in 2008 I hit the road with New York Times writer, and a neighbor here in Seattle, Bill...more
Links below to watch both of the episodes I was featured in for Arirang TV's "In Frame" series. The twelve-part series on Korea's national TV network followed mostly Magnum photographers around the country but when I was asked to do two episodes I agreed on one condition, I could photograph in...more
Sometimes you get home, upload your images, and see an image that means you nailed the shoot. One such image below, the kind of image that goes straight into my portfolio. Photo is from a shoot for Crowley Marine who needed both beauty and working shots of their new tug the Athena. Shot with a Mavic drone near Tacoma, WA, I had about a minute over the vessel before high winds forced me to bring the drone home. Nailed it!more
Someone recently asked me how we used to get our film processed and out from war zones in places like Cambodia, and get it to New York or Paris for a deadline. I had to explain, we didn't process the film; back then Time Magazine had their own in-house photolab and all we had to did was get the film to them. That, of course, was often harder than finding an E6 lab in the Cambodian jungle.
This slide was shot on assignment for Time...more
After a week of scanning in some old family photos I finally figured out why I may have become a photographer. The four scanned images below were all shot by my mom in 1966 using a medium format camera and slide film. These color photos of my older brother Chris could have been taken yesterday - the tones, colors and detail are stunning. All they needed was a proper scan and some TLC in Lightroom and Photoshop to come to life, which I did...more
Recent work for Preservation Magazine, published by the National Trust for Historic Preservation, on the Urban Grace church in downtown Tacoma, Washington. The history of the congregation that would become Urban Grace dates back 140 years and the church traces its lineage to the First Baptist Church (1883), founded on Pacific Avenue in what was then known as New Tacoma in the Washington Territory.
I had to go back to the church three...more