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Recent work, old work & professional musings

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My recent work for Site Workshop on the new Owen Beach project, now up on The Architect's Newspaper. A beautiful and simple project, redesigning a beach tucked away in Tacoma's Point Defiance park.

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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...

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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...

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In 2013 I was invited by Korea’s national TV network Ariyang to join with other photographers, mainly from the Magnum Photo Agency, to travel and photograph the around the country. The show was called “In Frame” and one of my conditions for taking...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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,...

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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...

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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...

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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...

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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!

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Honored to be interviewed Dan Milnor as part of his Shifter talks on photography. Listen here:

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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...

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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...

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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...

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"A rather unsatisfactory term's work, and I fear not 'O' level material". B.T.G.

This was my school report for "Art" in the summer of 1980 at King's College School in London. "O" levels are standardized exams in British secondary schools and apparently a life in the arts was not in my future. When I suggested to my art teacher that I enjoyed photography, I remember his retort:

"Photography isn't an art, Isett".

Yes...

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I've never been much of a gear head (for the love of god, don't ask me why I've always used Nikon!) but I'm also smart enough to see the writing on the wall. The DLSR camera was always a stopgap between the worlds of film and full digital, so I finally made the leap to mirrorless cameras with new Nikon Z7ii.

Amazing cameras so far, however you're still not allowed to say, "Hey Stuart, your cameras take great pictures". No better way to...

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New work for First Mode, building hydrogen powered engines right here in Seattle!

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Nice write up on my book at VOA's website, translated from the regional Khmer article.

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Yet another return to Amazon's growing campus in Seattle's South Lake Union and Denny Triangle neighborhoods to photograph Site Workshop's landscaping and plantings. The last time I was in the area was right after Amazon closed its offices because of COVID in March, 2020, and returning was a chance to see both people slowly returning plus the explosion of...

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Always happy when works goes live! Always happy to be around airplanes. Images taken for McGee Air Services for a complete website redesign done by the awesome crew at Blackwing Creative here in Seattle. See more of the work here.

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A recent interview with Siemny Kim of Kiro TV in Seattle about my collaboration with Silong Chhun for my book On the Corners of Argyle and Glenwood. I'm very grateful for yet another great opportunity to spread the word about the project..

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