Prior to Isam Kobaysey’s employment with El-Intikad magazine he was a photographer for Reuters and conducted numerous workshops at the Russian Cultural Center . For a number of years his teaching endeavors have included private classes for Iranian teachers. Isam was honored by Manar Television with two awards and is a long standing member of the Syndicate of Journalists.
During his adolescence his home was located in close proximity to a photography studio. When passing the studio he speculated on the mysteries within and the magical powers of the camera. The association of the camera with magic inspired and propelled him to procure his first photojournalist position with Intikad magazine.
In 1984 Isam began investigating the technical parameters of photography. He spent endless hours researching the photographic process and subjecting his photographs to trials and tests to further his technical skills. During this time he ignored the conceptual aspects of his photographs, yet in spite of this, his work was in great demand and his career flourished. In 1996, after twelve years of developing his technical acumen, he began concentrating on conceptual development. He states, “I came to a point where I was determined to use photography to reveal the truth about Lebanon ’s history. My objective is to imprint traces of this truth on the viewer’s mind. A photographer immortalizes momentous occasions, be they conflicts, gatherings of all kinds, theatre, weddings, or nature. Nothing is more astonishing and amazing than nature. It is paramount to preserve the exquisite beauty of Lebanon in photographs. Photographs, live eternal.”
Isam Kobaysey believes that all social conflicts and wars subject photojournalists to perilous situations. In his experience the July 2006 war and the Anakid el Ghadab war in 1993, between the Israelis and the resistance, were the most personally life threatening. He explains by saying, “The hazards faced by civilians on the streets during interior wars outweigh risks encountered on the battlefield. It is extremely dangerous for photojournalists during inner wars. On May 7th 2008 I found it impossible to identify my physical location due to mass hysteria and fear. It was commonplace for photographers to be beaten.”
Isam Kobaysey believes that, “Photography is not merely clicking a button on a camera. Photography is the process of developing and exposing significant events. The camera captures what my eye observes. During incidents of war I must be cautious and alert at all times. Photography is my profession. Just as those in other professions must perform their jobs, I must perform my job. My family acknowledges and accepts the perils that come with my work. They respect my position and do not interfere.” He places photography second to assisting someone in peril. However, if others are present to aid victims he commences photographing. In his opinion a profound photo documenting acts of war should capture the powerlessness of innocent civilians, the cornerstone being children and women.
The political unsteadiness In Lebanon effects Isam Kobaysey’s freedom to photograph. He states, “Political leaders inaccurately assume that photojournalists represent political parties; consequently they treat them harshly and cruelly. Photographers are discouraged from photographing certain leaders and politicians. This restriction increases the photographer’s curiosity and awakens the desire to photograph more. Photojournalists crave respect from politicians, in hopes that it will further their career. Oftentimes they are invited to delightful formal ceremonies as guests, only to be publicly insulted and humiliated. An invitation to a coveted celebrated event turns into a personally devastating calamity.”
Isam Kobaysey summarizes his commitment to photography by stating, “Without a photographer every significant message fades away.”
• Name and Surname: Isam Kobaysey
• Place of birth: Zebdin, Nabatiye , Lebanon
• Date of birth: January 11, 1962
• Agency of Employment: El-Intikad Magazine, Al-Dahye , Lebanon
• Length of Career: Since 1984
By Sevana Semerdjian