I had the honor of being invited to meet Jim and hear him speak in San Francisco at the Young Presidents Organization chapter meeting. Jim has been working with me as my mentor for the last few weeks. So this was going to be a rare opportunity for me to meet with him, and here him speak right here in my city.
Jim gave a compelling presentation, showing past and current work. He spoke of how he came to be a War Photographer, his desire for the adventure of war photography and the aesthetic challenges it posed. He described how he did not have money to go to grad school to learn photography. He spent all of his time driving trucks at night to earn a living, and the rest of the time was spent reading photography books in the aisles of bookstores, and practicing with a camera on the streets.
Through Jim’s photography he stresses the dignity, and sense of hope that the people in his photos still manage to possess in the most horrible of moments, and environments. When asked by someone in the audience, how he is able to get such intimate access to people, Jim’s response was, “People open up when a photographer is willing to take the same risks to be there.” He told me during one of our meetings that, if any one of these groups of people didn’t want him there, he wouldn’t last a minute.