Pulitzer-Winning Photojournalist Documents
Diagnosed at age 48 with a potentially deadly form of lymphoma, Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist John Kaplan turned the lens on himself and chronicled his experience in this visual journal. Kaplan’s new film, Not As I Pictured premiered on PBS stations nationwide in September.
Kaplan, one of America’s best-known photojournalists, husband and father of two young children, says, “The film uses anything but the typical melancholy, clichéd approach toward cancer stories. Not As I Pictured is upbeat and life affirming.”
Leading musicians donated music for the Not As I Pictured soundtrack, including Michael Stipe (R.E.M.), Chris Martin (Coldplay), David Bowie, will.i.am (Black Eyed Peas), Justin Timberlake, Pantera, and Cowboy Junkies. Their contributions helped the film win Best Soundtrack at the 2010 Maverick Movie Awards, and the ADDY Best of Show for Public Service.
One in three Americans will get cancer, touching nearly every family in the nation. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 11.7 million Americans are now cancer survivors. Many cancers today are beginning to be looked at as chronic illnesses, rather than death sentences.
Kaplan’s cancer diagnosis forever changed his outlook. “Your priorities become crystal-clear, immediately. The veneer is stripped away. I just want to be alive to see my kids grow up.”
With help from his family, doctors, and even Mother Teresa and a rock star, Kaplan shares the same boundless determination and powerful storytelling ability that helped him become a famous photographer. Although the topic is serious, the film is positive and ends with the news of Kaplan’s complete remission and return to good health.
“During my treatment, we received so much unexpected help along the way, often from strangers,” he says. “In sharing our family’s story, I’m determined to give some of that kindness back.”
To that end, the photojournalist is giving away 10,000 DVD copies of Not As I Pictured to anyone affected by cancer. Viewers can order free copies for personal use at the film’s website (www.NotAsIPictured.org). An educational kit produced in collaboration with the American Society of Clinical Oncology accompanies the DVD, addressing the emotional side of cancer with coping and lifestyle tips for patients, caregivers, and survivors.