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Sunday, October 1, 2006

John Isaac: Master Printer

The former U.N. photographer shares his experiences in creating superior prints

John Isaac: Master Printer

Though John Isaac has traveled to all corners of the globe, capturing some of the world's most poignant moments, his photographic career began humbly.

"I started my career as a print washer and dryer," says Isaac, who for 30 years was a United Nations photographer covering events such as the wars in Rwanda, Bosnia and Iraq. "I stayed outside the lab and just washed the prints and dried them in the drum dryers all day."

The role of print washer may not have been the most glamorous of beginnings, but for Isaac, it shaped not only his photographic eye, but also the way that he approaches printing, especially now in the age of digital.

Getting It Right
"When you’re a printer responsible for other photographers’ work, you have the opportunity to learn about good and bad compositions and exposures," he says. "I learned a lot about making good negatives from all the varied negatives that I used to make prints from. Some of them were so difficult because they were overexposed or underexposed. This was a good lesson for me so that when I started to shoot, I was very concerned with exposures. I became very particular."

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