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February 17th, 2009

Ed Kashi: Travels in India 2

Posted by Ed Kashi

In Ed’s first post, he tells us how a chance encounter during a family vacation in India led to a possible new photo project. Here he reflects on a common struggle for many photojournalists: finding quality family time amid a hectic work schedule. Also check out Ed’s third post about the rejuvenating effect that teaching has on him.
Ed Kashi and his family on vacation, in Jaipur, India. © Ed Kashi

Ed Kashi and his family on vacation, in Jaipur, India. © Ed Kashi


Being on the road half the year away from my family is probably the hardest part of being a photojournalist at this point in my life. The challenge of balancing these two vitally important parts of my whole being is essential, because without one or the other, my life would dissolve into an abyss I prefer to avoid. I’m constantly in dialogue with myself to keep in check my compulsion to create and push my boundaries, while maintaining my family’s tight bonds, making sure my children feel loved, continuing to be a vital participant in their lives, and providing my wife with enough support and love. At times, when I’m far away for long stretches, I wonder how I can continue to make it all work.  My wife and kids are tremendously supportive and understanding, yet it’s my sense of loss and longing for their companionship that causes my heartache. What I find so interesting is how both elements of this weird life feed into one another.

It used to be, when the kids were younger, that I couldn’t wait to leave again, within days of getting home. Now I battle with the need and desire to be home and not miss all the amazing things my children are up to, while I also feed off of the engagement with the world my work and travels provide. I couldn’t do this without the unconditional support of my wife, Julie Winokur. She is an incredible woman: a great mother, a talented writer and multimedia producer, and an excellent storyteller. She has that rare quality of the common touch, the artist’s sense of how to put a story together and the writer’s ability to construct narratives. We are so fortunate to have one another. It is rare to be able to combine work, family, and friendship. Not that it’s always easy or fun or loving, but, at the end of the day, we recognize our good fortune. Finding a teammate or collaborator in life is not easy.

Of course, Julie and I constantly imagine how much easier our work life could be without the responsibilities of the children, being able to travel freely, have her join me on my more dangerous and risky projects. But what I’ve come to realize is the vital importance our children have in our work lives. The daily minutiae — making a school lunch, eating a home cooked meal, giving love and support to a sad child, sharing a movie together — help buffer us from our obsessive ambitions. And such simple family pleasures, which make us human and reaffirm our love and commitment to one another, remind us of the most important aspects of our work: new-found sensitivities to other people’s lives and a deeper understanding of what it means to come through for another person who is depending on you.

And what is even more exciting now, as the kids mature and grow up, is that we’re increasingly able to include them in our work. Last year my son Eli, who is 14, assisted Julie and I on two shoots, which gives him a better understanding of what we do, as well as boosting his income dramatically :-)  And at the moment we’re working with Isabel to produce a musical score for an upcoming multimedia piece to accompany my next book, THREE, due out in April.

Be Part of the RESOLUTION: Are there other photographers who are frequently on the road for long stretches of time and have a strategy to maintain the balance between work and personal relationships?


  1. February 17th, 2009 at 8:02 am


    Just came over from, great looking blog! Bookmarked, and i’ll be back.

    More than that, great post. It is the difficulty of having a job that keeps you on the road. I did the same thing for a few years (albeit, not in photography) but overtime I had to move into something kept me closer to home. Now, things have changed yet again, and photography might be putting me back on the road more in the meantime.

    Great post, thanks!

  2. February 18th, 2009 at 2:53 am


    It’s not easy to travle for more than half of your working time.
    My daughter is not happy, my ex wife a little bit more…

  3. February 18th, 2009 at 4:35 am

    ed kashi

    This balancing act is sometimes hard to achieve but if you can maintain communication with your loved ones and be clear with yourself why you must do this, then at least you can summon the full energy needed to accomplish your work and let those close to you know you love them and are committed.

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