Ed Kashi is a photojournalist dedicated to documenting the social and political issues that define our times. In addition to editorial assignments, filmmaking, and personal projects, Kashi is an educator who instructs and mentors students of photography, participates in forums, and lectures on photojournalism, documentary photography, and multimedia storytelling. A sensitive eye and an intimate relationship to his subjects are the signatures of his work. Kashi's complex imagery has been recognized for its compelling rendering of the human condition.
"I take on issues that stir my passions about the state of humanity and our world, and I deeply believe in the power of still images to change people's minds," he says. "I'm driven by this fact: that the work of photojournalists and documentary photographers can have a positive impact on the world. The access people give to their lives is precious as well as imperative for this important work to get done. Their openness brings with it a tremendous sense of responsibility to tell the truth but to also honor their stories."
Along with numerous awards, including honors from Pictures of the Year International, World Press Foundation, Communication Arts, and American Photography, Kashi's images have been published and exhibited worldwide, and his editorial assignments and personal projects have generated four books. Kashi's first project for National Geographic magazine was a cover story on the Kurds. It was subsequently published as the monograph When the Borders Bleed: The Struggle of the Kurds (Pantheon). The October 2008 edition of National Geographic presented Kashi's 12th major story for the magazine, "India's Highways." Also published in National Geographic, "Curse of the Black Gold: Hope and Betrayal in the Niger Delta" (February 2007) chronicled the negative impact of oil development on the impoverished Niger Delta. This article led to a collaborative photographic and editorial essay book, Curse of the Black Gold: 50 Years of Oil in the Niger Delta (published in 2008 by powerHouse Books).
In 2009, powerHouse Books published Kashi's book Three. Presented in a triptych format, this project draws upon Kashi's vast supply of images created over 30 years searching for "visual connections, visual language, visual poetry of three." Diverging from Kashi's more widely known editorial context, Three provocatively "plays on the relationships of photographs to explore life's hidden associations," which exist in our chaotic, frenzied, constantly fluctuating modern world.
Another of Kashi's innovative approaches to photography and filmmaking produced the Iraqi Kurdistan flip book, which premiered on MSNBC.com in December 2006. Using stills in a moving image format, this creative and thought-provoking form of visual storytelling garnered an award from the 26th annual Black Maria Film and Video Festival (2007) and has been shown in many film festivals and as part of a series of exhibitions on the Iraq War at the George Eastman House. Also, an eight-year personal project completed in 2003, Aging in America: The Years Ahead, created a traveling exhibition, an award-winning documentary film, a Web site, and a book that was named one of the best photo books of 2003 by American Photo. Published by powerHouse Books, this work examines the social impact of the expanding elderly population in the United States.
Other projects include documentary work on the Protestant community in Northern Ireland, which was self-published as a book titled The Protestants: No Surrender. This study set the tone for future explorations of groups in conflict who have been neglected by the mainstream media. In the mid-1990s, Kashi spent several years documenting the lives of Jewish settlers in the West Bank. The settlers' story has been published worldwide, and a photograph from this essay received an award in the 1995 World Press Photo competition.
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. The first project resulted in a book and a traveling exhibition on uninsured Americans called Denied: The Crisis of America's Uninsured. A one-hour documentary film pertaining to this crucial health care challenge was produced for release in mid-2009.
According to David Griffin, Director of Photography at National Geographic: "Ed Kashi is intelligent, brave and compassionate. He always understands the nuances of his subjects. He fearlessly goes where few would venture. And he sympathetically captures the soul of each situation. Ed is one of the best of a new breed of photojournalistic artists."