Recent work, old work & professional musings
THE ISLAND OF THE OLD
On the Japanese island of Suoshima, young people are in such short supply that they put up mannequins instead.
ORIGINALLY PUBLISHED November 1999. Photographs by Stuart Isett & text by Richard Lloyd Parry.
In the Seto Inland Sea, a miniature...more
On the Corners of Argyle and Glenwood - Second edition
Happy to see Catfish books release a second edition of my book 'On the Corners of Argyle and Glenwood', this time with a beautiful yellow/gold outer sleeve! Order yours here.
"As a young graduate student in photography in the early 1990s, Stuart Isett found himself...more
E-waste in China
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
The Elephant Beggars
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.
The BANGKOK Body Snatchers
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
Bob Dylan in Oklahoma
Starting in September, 2022, I partnered with the actor and playwright Mark Jenkins - who drove from his home in Wyoming to Denver to see Bob Dylan perform in 1963 - 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 through Oklahoma exploring how Dylan's art influenced the way we see the world. With Mark’s notebooks and my cameras, we will...more
My love she speaks like silence
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
A Good Parisian Protest - APRIL 2006
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
Herkimer - The lightstalkers coffee shop
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
Queen of the Skies
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
Death in Cambodia Podcast
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
Shifter: Dispatches - Stuart Isett
The more things change...
....the more they stay the same. Except for the Duran Duran hair. I miss that. Photos taken in Ann Arbor, MI in 1987 and Seattle, WA, in 2023. One with a Nikon FA, a camera I used for a full decade. Most recent camera is the mirrorless Nikon Z7ii. It's...more
Do you miss film?
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
Last of the Nikons
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
Sea Change - Architects Newspaper
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.more
Chasing Kurt Cobain
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
Train to Busan
"Tongues hanging out from exhaustion mountain" & other places I hope to never go back to
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
Riot in Peace City
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
You never know!
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
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