Featured photographer: Gary Isaacs

This picture was taken by me a couple of years ago.
I’m starting a new chapter on Cooking Film in which I’ll share the work of some of my favorite photographers.

Being an amateur and doing photography only as a hobby I do spend a lot of time looking at images, reading about photography and photographers, about the process, trying to get better, trying to find my own way. I take my passion very seriously and I do have fun doing it.

Choosing the first photographer to feature was very easy and it could only be Gary Isaacs. Why?
Well… let me just say that I’m an amateur photographer and I live in the same house for 12 years and the only photograph ever to be hanged on my walls was that one.

Yes, the lady looking back on the backseat of a car. “white hearts on a string” is the title, Gary Isaacs is the author.

The first thing that stroke me about his work were the portraits. There’s this feeling of intimacy and loneliness. His portraits make me feel like a voyeur. I’m allowed to step in into something in which the photograph is only the gateway.

“the rivers edge”, the amazing “russian roulette” or “oklahoma: you think you know and you never do”. I often get a feeling that there’s no one else in the world but the people Gary Isaacs captures… on that precise moment everything else disappears and the world pauses just to keep on spinning a second later.

the rivers edge . . . 8/23/09

russian roulette 6/17/08

oklahoma : you think you know and you never do 8/12/07

“Photography” isn’t very important . . . . it’s everything around it that is – the decisive moment as photographers understand it is truly empty – deeply and profoundly empty”.
Gary Isaacs

I have to admit that it’s a bit silly to talk about gear with a photographer like Gary. He has been doing photography for over 20 years and no matter what every image has his visual signature. Gear and film have very little to do with the outcome.

Well, I did it anyway, being as silly as I am, I tried to find out a bit more about his work process, about the technical aspects. What cameras, what films, always the “whats” and the “hows”.


snakes and ladders


People like me are always trying to escape the painful truth that owning a Leica will not make me another Sebastião Salgado or owning a Ricoh will not make me another Daido Moriyama…

That doesn’t work with Gary Isaacs, he would rather tell us to see things for ourselves and to try whatever we feel that might add value to our images; cameras, films, whatever…

“It’s important to pay attention to how YOU do what you do – we all gravitate towards using the tools the that we do for the reasons that we do . . . . it behooves us to pay attention to how our work is unfolding and how we feel about the images we are creating . . . . if it occurs to us that we might enhance our experience by using different tools then hopefully we can find a way of making those changes . . .. . and then we can observe if that changed anything in a way that’s meaningful to us.”
Gary Isaacs

I even tried to pull him into the “passionate” discussion about film versus digital. Well… that discussion didn’t left the starting line: “The only thing i’ll add is that i am of the opinion that as many angels can fit on a pixel as on a particle of grain.”

true sailing is dead

the little voice in your head

aaron 10/25/08

first snow 10/24/07

Through Gary Isaacs I’ve discovered the America of my memories and dreams. The America I’m yet to see for myself, the America I can only access through television, movies and books. The cars, the roadside dinners, the streets, the musicians. I feel it like a documental approach to a certain America with all it’s symbols…

“I often feel that i am photographing what things remind me of more that the thing themselves . . . . . and it’s not always clear to me where the “memory or attraction to the memory” is coming from. . . . .”
Gary Isaacs

before the drift 11/20/07

crown of amphetamine revisited 7/14/07

jesus saves 6/27/07

a blue dusk 9/25/07

red 11/3/07

Lexington one two five 2/9/08

My English isn’t good enough to allow me to express my thoughts in a better way nor am I competent to talk about Gary’s images which I know only as an admirer. These are my very personal thoughts about someone I consider a world class photographer.

Everytime I look at his images I feel like going out with my camera and that’s the best thing I can say about Gary Isaacs. And for that I can never thank him enough.

“photography is my attempt to grasp at my attractions . . . . . according to the buddha i’ve got a long long road in front me . . . . .”
Gary Isaacs

You can find Gary’s work on the following links:
Gary Isaacs photography
Flickr account

Thank you Gary for taking the time.

  1. there is something about gary
    i can remember each of his pics i saw
    i can feel his pics
    i love his pics
    thanks for the interview

    • Cooking Film said:

      Thank you so much Sol.
      Gary was kind enough to share some thoughts and he had to be the first in here.

      Truly outstanding work.

  2. Shaun S said:

    Lovely introduction to this man’s inspiring work! Thanks for sharing – Shaun

    • Cooking Film said:

      Thank YOU Shaun for stopping by my friend.
      Indeed Garys work is inspirational.

      Thank you.

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