Jez Coulson is a photojournalist and reportage artist. Born in Birmingham (England), he attended the Kent Institute of Art and has worked all over the world winning awards for his coverage of South Africa, Rwanda, Bosnia and Gaza, and other stories undertaken for international magazines. Now living in New York and Washington DC, Jez works on his own exhibits and commercial projects, while still taking photojournalistic assignments. He blogs at Jezblog.
Why do you blog? > I started blogging to teach myself digital photography. At the time I was obsessed with shooting film. I needed to jump to digital and had to persuade myself of the advantages. For me, the internet and digital photography combined became an advance on just film. It's been a new experience to shoot like this and share it.
What has been your best blogging experience? > When Greta van Susteren, a Fox News presenter who has her own blog, suddenly sent thousands of her fans to visit Jezblog - completely unexpectedly.
What has been your worst blogging experience? > Finding myself asleep face down on the keyboard at 4 a.m. - halfway through a particularly scintillating blog post.
What are your favourite blogs? > I have few things I always do on the net but I always drop in on Bocetos, the blog of my friend, artist and photographer Amin Torres (the most creative man I have ever met with a real job). I also like to read Andrew Sullivan's Daily Dish, and in the last few weeks I have got interested in Strobist. Slightly differently, I recommend people subscribe to the twitter stream of interweb enthusiast Tom Ajello here. Finally I don't need to tell you, there is the evergreen normblog - hee hee.
Who are your intellectual heroes? > George Orwell.
Who are your cultural heroes? > Don McCullin.
What is the best novel you've ever read? > The Rotters' Club by Jonathan Coe, evoking the world of my Birmingham childhood. I had an incredible, almost visceral feeling of déjà vu about riding on the 62 bus, having not given it a moment's thought for 30 years.
What is your favourite movie? > Repo Man. Harry Dean Stanton says at one point something like 'Ordinary people I hate them - they always spend their lives avoiding intense situations. Whereas the repo man spends his life looking to get into them.' That neatly sums up the life of the photojournalist.
What is your favourite song? > 'A Message to You Rudi' by The Specials.
Can you name a major moral, political or intellectual issue on which you've ever changed your mind? > CND and general pacifism. I have seen enough undefended innocent people slaughtered by bad guys to have totally dropped any of that.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to disseminate? > Anti-totalitarianism - I'm against religious and political fanaticism and for universal human rights.
What philosophical thesis do you think it most important to combat? > Moral relativism towards the open societies of the West.
Who are your political heroes? > Nelson Mandela. On the night that the ANC declared victory in South Africa's first democratic election, I was taking pictures of him greeting and shaking hands with dignitaries. When the line ended, he still stood there patiently and I suddenly realised he was waiting to shake hands with me. There is the mark of a great man: on an amazing night for him, he was still accommodating even to the scuzzy photographers of this world.
What is your favourite piece of political wisdom? > 'For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others.' (Nelson Mandela)
What do you consider to be the main threat to the future peace and security of the world? > Religious fundamentalism.
Do you think the world (human civilization) has already passed its best point, or is that yet to come? > I'm an optimist. We have our ups and downs. Things will be better in the long run.
What would be your most important piece of advice about life? > You are only as good as your last job.
Do you think you could ever be married to, or in a long-term relationship with, someone with radically different political views from your own? > Not really. I have friends I disagree with but I can't imagine being in a very close relationship with someone who doesn't see the world in a fairly similar(ish) way.
In what circumstances would you be willing to lie? > Most. I am a photojournalist. A little of what is technically known as horseshit often gets you through the door or keeps you alive with Serbian irregular forces.
Do you have any prejudices you're willing to acknowledge? > I think religious zealots are ignorant fools.
What commonly enjoyed activities do you regard as a waste of time? > Most TV watching. I'd rather waste time on the internet.
What, if anything, do you worry about? > I never worry and I never lie... er... see above.
What would you call your autobiography? > When's the Next Plane?
Who would play you in the movie about your life? > I liked Nick Nolte in Under Fire. He gets the picture and gets the girl. Though he might be a little old now - hee hee hee.
Where would you most like to live (other than where you do)? > Shanghai.
What would your ideal holiday be? > Charter a yacht in the British Virgin Islands.
What do you like doing in your spare time? > I don't really have much spare time; I'm a blogger.
What is your most treasured possession? > My Mustang GT. Well not really, but it is probably my greatest extravagance.
If you had to change your first name, what would you change it to? > To a cooler name than Jez? Are you kidding?
What talent would you most like to have? > To be able to play guitar.
What would be your ideal choice of alternative profession or job? > Rescue helicopter pilot or radio DJ.
Who is your favourite comedian or humorist? > Jasper Carrott or maybe Ronnie Barker.
Which football teams do you support? > Manchester United and the New York Giants.
If you could have one (more or less realistic) wish come true, what would you wish for? > Sometimes as a photojournalist it would be great to be able to be invisible.
How, if at all, would you change your life were you suddenly to win or inherit an enormously large sum of money? > Less of doing what everyone else says and more of doing only what I want as a photographer - but nobody but me would know the difference. I'd most certainly still be a photographer, photojournalist, reportage artist.
If you could have any three guests, past or present, to dinner who would they be? > I have never held a dinner party. It is amazing I still get invited to any. I don't have enough control of my whereabouts to plan dinner parties real or imagined.
[The normblog profile is a weekly Friday morning feature. A list of all the profiles to date, and the links to them, can be found here.]