Photojournalist Ed Kashi has produced a book merging his business world with his personal, as he pairs photographs taken on assignment with his private journal entries. Kashi is a rare breed among photojournalists: married with children. Tracking twenty years of living and working in separated worlds, his journal writing, and later, emails, are directed towards his wife, Julie. He describes the difficulties of his work, both the emotional reactions from photographing complicated social environments, as well as the stress and pain from the work directly crashing into his life, as he is arrested and detained in Nigeria. Through it all is the undercurrent of his love for his family, and his desire to come home to them.
The work is incredibly emotional in the way that it explores an occupation drenched in solitude and risk, and the complementary craving he experiences to feel connected to something stable and loving – his family. His writing underscores the fact that he is experiencing these trials alone, yet he needs to be able to share it with them. The book is ultimately educative about the experience of being a photojournalist, travelling and occasionally at risk, from the perspective of the emotional toll it takes at attempts for a normal life.
The book is closed by two essays, one by Kashi’s wife, Julie, and a closing statement by Kashi himself. The essay by Julie is integral to the understanding of the work, as she presents the receiving side of his work, his letters, and his love. She describes with acuity the experience of having a marriage built on absence, and the sorrow of being the one who stays behind. Through her eyes, we also experience the life that he has missed while being away on assignment. She wipes away some of the romantic notions that are infused in his writing, assuring there are no rose-tinted glasses left to look through about the glamour of working as a photojournalist, travelling the world and writing love-letters.
While the writings were originally intended to be private, and they are now published to a public form, the end result still feels like a personal dialogue between Kashi and his family, a way for him to look back on his working life and his family life and reconcile the two. Photojournalisms is a beautifully rendered work, and is necessary viewing and reading for any aspiring photojournalist.
Witness Number 8: Photojournalisms is available for sale from publisher Nazraeli Press. To learn more about the project from the photographer himself, read the New York Times Lens Blog interview with Ed Kashi.