#ICMA Was Not As I Pictured


John Kaplan, self portrait in mirror, one image from his web site notiasipictured.org. "Not as I Pictured" is his powerful video about his experience undergoing chemo treatment for two simultaneous types of cancer.

John Kaplan, self portrait in mirror, one image from his web site notiasipictured.org. “Not as I Pictured” is his powerful video about his experience undergoing chemo treatment for two simultaneous types of cancer.

The schedule just said “Not as I Pictured” as the name of the speech, and Pulitzer-prize winning photojournalist John Kaplan as the presenter.

It was the only thing scheduled this afternoon at 1:30, and I like photography, so what the heck? I guess I was expecting some sort of presentation about how photos that you take surprise you by being worse or better than expected.

Of course, a second of Google would have clued me in. But maybe the impact was more powerful because I didn’t see it coming.

Kaplan has made a powerful, 54-minute video that chronicles his own battle with two forms of lymphoma.

The chemo has worked, which is a relief, but the ride is an emotional roller coaster. I lost a father in law to this kind of cancer, and felt myself tearing up several times—when Kaplan’s hair was falling out, when his young kids were dancing with him, when he presents the opening lecture of class wearing a “love kills cancer” t-shirt.

If you know someone who is dealing with the reality of cancer, please go to http://www.notasipictured.org/. You will want to get a copy of this video. If you need it, you can get it for free from the web site.

Despite the grim topic, the video is not a downer at all. When he convinces a rock star to deliver a photo to a man who is beating back brain cancer in Michigan—well, no Budweiser cute horsy commercial ever made will tug so hard at your heart or make you feel more uplifted, all the more so because this video is the real deal.

One of Kaplan’s themes in his speech to ICMA and INA introducing the video was that he is very concerned about social responsibility in journalism. Using his own gripping images and videos to tell this story is certain to do a lot of social good, so he is himself an excellent example. When journalism tells consequential stories in depth, it can be very, very powerful.

Well, John, I’m glad you were around to finish the video and talk to us at ICMA. Of infinitely greater importance, I’m glad you are still around to see your children grow. May your arms yet hold grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Today’s ICMA afternoon was just grand. The MMU Times won nine awards, which is peachy keen; I got to tour a Des Moines TV studio with students, and that was fun; Chuck Peters of the Gazette gave a speech that I’m sure will resonate; and I’m looking forward to hearing further thoughts from Lyle Muller, formerly of the Gazette, tomorrow.

But Kaplan was the highlight, so far. His is a powerful story, told with grace and a sense of humanity. Seriously, you need to see this video.

8

Another of Kaplan’s images from his web site, showing him with his daughter. The story needed a happy ending, and I’m glad to say it has one.

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