Ed Kashi is a photojournalist, filmmaker and educator dedicated to documenting the social and political issues that define our times. A sensitive eye and an intimate relationship to his subjects are signatures of his work. As a member of VII Photo Agency, Kashi has been recognized for his complex imagery and its compelling rendering of the human condition.
His innovative approach to photography and filmmaking produced, among many other projects, the Iraqi Kurdistan Flipbook with MediaStorm, and the award-winning Aging in America: The Years Ahead, both widely distributed in various formats.
Along with numerous awards, including Second Prize Contemporary Issues Singles in the 2011 World Press Photo Contest, UNICEF’s Photo of the Year 2010, a Prix Pictet 2010 Commission and honors from Pictures of the Year International, Communication Arts and American Photography, Kashi’s images have been published and exhibited worldwide. Additionally, his editorial assignments and personal projects have generated seven books, including Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta, THREE, and Photojournalisms.
In 2002, Kashi and his wife, writer-filmmaker Julie Winokur, founded Talking Eyes Media. The nonprofit company has produced numerous short films and multimedia pieces that explore significant social issues. Ed is represented by Anastasia Photo, a gallery specializing in documentary photography and photojournalism.
Photograph by Ed Kashi from Hurricane Sandy.
Debris is strewn on the beach in the wake of Hurricane Sandy, Atlantic City, N.J., Oct. 30, 2012. The super storm ravaged the East Coast, leaving many dead and billions of dollars in damage.
At 9 am on Monday, October 29, 2012, Ed Kashi received an email from Time magazine, asking him to take over the publication’s Instagram feed and cover Hurricane Sandy from New Jersey, where he lives. As Sandy fast approached the coasts of New Jersey, New York and Connecticut that day, he and fellow photographers Michael Christopher Brown, Benjamin Lowy, Andrew Quilty and Stephen Wilkes, all on assignment for Time, set out to different areas of the region to document the superstorm and its aftermath, posting their iPhone pictures on the social network.
“It turned the traditional paradigm of photography upside down,” said Kashi, recalling the experience in a phone interview. “It was the first time a visual recording of a news event was being shared with the public in real time: you find something, you photograph and post it. It’s empowering.”
Although he had already been the sole photographer in charge of The New Yorker’s Instagram feed not long before, Time’s commission was a first for Kashi. In fact, using social media as an outlet to cover such a major breaking news event was a first experiment for the world of journalism at large. Kashi defined it as not only a more effective way to provide the readers with relevant visual information while avoiding sensationalism, but also the most direct tool to communicate with the audience and foster its engagement.
“Everywhere I went, people were shooting with their phones,” he said.
His visual journey started with a photograph of a tree that had fallen into his neighbor’s house in Montclair, NJ, the morning after the storm hit, and continued towards Atlantic City, two hours away from his home. As he drove down the Jersey coast and passed Keyport listening to the radio, he realized that NPR reporters were exactly as far as he had got on the route to Atlantic City. No news from further south was transmitted.
“There was no set agenda other than the game plan,” he recalled. “I didn’t know what I was going to find.”
Kashi, however, wasn’t new to documenting natural disasters of such proportions: in 2005, he had flown to New Orleans to cover Hurricane Katrina. He recalled finding a similar of devastation in the two circumstances: the damage caused by the water, the flooded houses and the lives that had been destroyed. Sandy, however, was the first to hit — literally — so close to home.
“Before Sandy, storms usually meant ‘Oh, is it going to rain today?’ Now it’s more like ‘Are we going to lose power… lose our homes?’”
For him, as for millions of residents in the Tri-state area, the wrath of the superstorm turned the seemingly distant threat of climate change into the brutal reality so many people all around the world have to live with every day.