Recent work, old work & professional musings
IJEN, Indonesia - November, 1998
In East Java, Indonesia, hundreds of miners face deadly smoke to mine sulphur, or “devil’s gold.”, found inside the still active Ijen Volcano. They risk respiratory illness and death to haul 200-pound loads of sulphur up the crater walls to sell. Throughout their workdays, the miners battle toxic fumes and it’s common for miners' shoulders to swell for the weight of their loads. Running down the sides...more
When your work gets immortalized in manga! Singapore based sneaker customization artist Bob Ng at No-Brainer*, recently turned one of my images from a 1999 bozosoku biker gang riot in Hiroshima into a manga. Needless to say, my 13 year old kid (and a manga fan) is impressed! read more about Bob's...more
Starting in 2022, I partnered with the retired actor and playwright Mark Jenkins - who drove from his home in Douglas, Wyoming to see Bob Dylan perform in Denver in February, 1964 - to explore the new Bob Dylan Center in Tulsa. Two Seattle-based artists and Dylan enthusiasts, separated by a generation, Mark and I are traveling throughout Oklahoma exploring how Dylan's art influenced the way we see the world and what the state says about...more
Ode to our neighborhood coffee shop, Herkimer Coffee shop on Greenwood Avenue here in Seattle. We’ve been taking the girls there since we moved to the neighborhood in 2008 - nothing like a hot chocolate and a sweet treat for them to allow me to take a few photos.
It's a lightstalkers dream too - large windows facing west on the top of a hill. The space...more
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
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
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 only recently got a decent scan of it, and love it more. My love, the light, the Twin Towers; our lives totally in limbo as we prepared to take the plunge and live in Japan.
Now it's two kids, a cat, mortgage, college 529s,...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
Work from 2005 on e-waste in China, then a center for the global trade in toxic electronic waste, much of it arriving in the Chinese port city of Taizhou. 24 hours a day ships arrived in the city's harbor carrying cargo of waste, including millions of computer parts. These parts flowed out of the port in trucks into the city and hinterland where hundreds of tiny work shops broke down the parts, melting off the precious metals and using acids...more
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED November 1999. Photographs by Stuart Isett & text by Richard Lloyd Parry.
In the Seto Inland Sea, a miniature ocean of warm currents in Japan's south-west, is an island called Oshima which might have come out of Odysseus's adventures or Gulliver's travels. Its name means simply "Big Island", although from end to end it is...more
The streets of Nanjie village, a model communist village in the central province of Henan, are usually deserted as villagers are not allowed to own cars making the village feel more like Pyongyang, than your typical modern Chinese town. It collectivised its agricultural production and industry in the mid 1980s - when the rest of the country was doing the opposite, introducing market reforms put forward by former leader Deng Xiaoping....more
A two part photo essay on elephants and their owners who were forced in the 1990s to move to Bangkok to beg for donations and food from Thais to survive. The project was photographed from 1996 to 1999, working with a group mahouts I met living in an encampment off Phetchaburi Road. Thailand banned so-call urban elephants a few years after I worked on this project, published in several european publications and a Japanese magazine.
Bangkok, Thailand - June, 1995
Bangkok’s ‘body snatchers’ are not found in a science fiction novel or horror movie. Cruising Bangkok’s streets in their distinctive white pickup trucks, the young volunteers of the Por Tek Teung Foundation are, in fact, the city’s first line of defense against the death and mayhem that terrorize the capital’s streets. In a city notorious for its traffic jams and inadequate infrastructure, the body...more
On every photographer's bucket list should be covering a good protest in Paris - mace, clowns, late night coq au vin, airborne cobblestones, washing teargas out of your eyes in fountains at Notre Dame at 1am. Watching them unfold again this month after President Macron's government rammed through retirement age changes, sent me archive digging for the riots that rocked the city in 2006 when the government attempted, and failed, to change...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