Jesse's first camera arrived on his sixth birthday as a present from his father, celebrated photographer Simpson Kalisher. A darkroom soon followed. While raised by his mother, over the years Jesse worked with his father both in the darkroom and as his assistant. Yet despite his enthusiasm for the medium, when it came time to go to college and consider a career, Jesse took his father's advice and focused on anything but photography.
After an 11-year career on Madison Avenue, at 33-years-old, Jesse boarded a plane for Hanoi and two months of untold adventures. The year was 1996. Jesse carried with him a simple point and shoot camera. It was during his first few days in Vietnam that he looked through the small viewfinder and had an epiphany. He had seen a few children playing badminton on an otherwise deserted early morning street, lifted the camera to his eye and expected to see a snapshot. He saw instead a tableau filled with meaning. And in that very instant he re-discovered his love affair with photography.
Today, in addition to private collections throughout the world, Jesse's photography is in the permanent collections of many museums including The Louvre, The Smithsonian, The George Eastman House, The de Young Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, The Museum of Fine Arts Houston and many more. Of note, the first photograph of Barack Obama acquired by the Smithsonian National Museum of American History was Jesse's.
Jesse's collection "if you find the Buddha" was published by Chronicle Books and released in 2006 to great reviews. He's led photo expeditions from French Polynesia to Alaska and throughout Europe. He's been on the faculty at The Maine Media Workshops and invited to teach at the Santa Fe Workshops.
Jesse and his work has been featured in Black and White Magazine, Digital Photo Pro Magazine, Art and Living Magazine, Décor Magazine, and had his work was reviewed by noted New York gallery owner Michael Foley who wrote that Jesse has "a large vision in life."
Jesse's work has sold in the Stephen Cohen Gallery in Los Angeles and has been featured at places including Photo San Francisco, Photo Los Angeles and The Oakland Museum of California.
"I am attracted equally to stories, ideas and aesthetic. The challenge I set for myself is to find moments and create pictures that stimulate the viewer on more than one level. A great photograph (for me) is one in which both the aesthetic and the meaning fight equally for our attention. It's easy to create a pretty picture. It's easy to create a photograph with a meaningful story. But create a picture that has both elements and you've got a treasure. These images are rare and difficult to make, and thus my most treasured achievement.
I believe in the camera as a vehicle for capturing what actually exists in life, as a window into human achievement and the human condition. I see my role, therefore, as an observer. If I manage to capture something with my camera that strikes
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