Mar 11 2012

“Be my eyes and show me everything that I cannot see”

Category: Books,Children,Friends,Interviews,MJ QuotesSeven @ 11:43 am

Michael with photographer John Isaac

This is an interview with photographer John Isaac who shares his memories of working and spending time with Michael. John remembers going to Neverland to photograph Michael and his son Prince, and he remembers a surprise Michael had for his fans at the concert in Milan.

John says he cannot watch the TII film yet because of the immense grief it causes, but says he sometimes sees Michael on a clear, starry night.

[Translated with slight edits to make sense of translation]

Q: When was the first time you saw Michael?

One day I received a phone call. The voice said: “Are you John Isaac?” I said, “Yes” and asked who he was. The voice said: “Michael.” I said “Michael,” The voice said: “Michael Jackson” I said, “Who?” and hung up. A few seconds later the phone rang again, and Bob Jones was wondering why I had hung up the phone on Michael Jackson! I replied: “It was really him?” and handed the phone to Michael. He said he was a fan of my photographs. He bought a poster I created for UNICEF on which featured many children because he loved the pictures and wanted to meet me. He asked if I could go to Neverland and sign the poster. I said I could sign one and send it to New York, but he insisted that I go to Los Angeles. Three days later, they came to the Big Apple to film “They Don’t Care About Us” (prison version) and he invited me and my wife Jeannette to go see the movie. So we went and we met. The next day he asked me to spend the afternoon with him at his hotel in Manhattan and studied my photographic work.

Q: What is the best advice he gave you?

He once told me that I had a knack for photography and should continue to use it to help children around the world. He knew how much I cared about children. I took him to Brazil when they were finishing the video “They Don’t Care About Us“, and he said something I’ll never forget. “John, be my eyes and show me everything that I cannot see.”  I was so excited that I made photos of children in the slums of Rio de Janeiro and Salvador, while they were filming. I travelled in his private plane to Brazil. It was my first trip with him. Michael always supported me, he was aware of my provenance. One day he said we’ve both been to many different places and that is why we both love children. (John Isaac was born in India and spent 20 years working as a photographer of the United Nations, covering countries such as Vietnam, Rwanda, Sarajevo …).

Q: You’ve been to Neverland to take family photos of the first son of Prince Michael and Debbie Rowe. Please tell us more about this experience.

Debbie was not at Neverland, it was just Prince and Michael and I took pictures of father and son. I took the pictures with Debbie at a hotel in Los Angeles. I’ve been twice to Neverland. I drove an electric cart around the farm, saw movies in the theater, climbed on the train. I felt like a kid when I was there! One afternoon we saw a movie together. I was in the suite of Liz Taylor. Michael was very philosophical, often talked about philosophy and life. He asked me to tell him things about the children I had photographed around the world. When I worked for the United Nations, many stories of pain and suffering of all kinds of children. He was always very compassionate towards the less fortunate children.

Q: What is your favorite memory during HIStory World Tour?

At the beginning of the tour in Prague, I think he wanted me to photograph on the stage while he was singing “Heal the World.” I was scared up there in the spotlight with so many fans in front of me, my knees were shaking.  I enjoyed meeting fans around the world while traveling with him. I must say that I met many fine young men. Michael would not have been who he was, if not for all the wonderful fans who adored him so much. Being next to the King of Pop to visit hospitals and orphanages was something I especially appreciated.

Q: How many photographic sessions did you do with Michael Jackson?

I’m not sure how many, but I know there were many. Some special calendars for Sony and other announcements. He also wanted to take pictures with children before each concert.

Q: You told us that Michael had a surprise for fans at the concert in Milan on June 18, 1997: The photo of Michael’s hands and Prince on the screens near the stage. Michael decided to do this? What did he say?

He said it was one of the most special photos I had taken of him and Prince. I captured his hand taking Prince’s hand and he told me that he liked it so much he wanted to show the fans in Milan. It is one of my favorite toos. Michael does not even appear – only his hand protecting Prince.

Q: What picture of Michael do you feel most proud of?

There are many photos that I like, but one I took during a rehearsal in Los Angeles which was published in a special book: Laurent Hopman – Captain Eo Productions (program memory HIStory World Tour – Limited Edition). Michael is at center stage and all the dancers are around with different poses, rehearsing. It looks like a painting. Michael really liked this photo too. All dressed in casual clothes. I have no copy of this negative image because I gave them all to Michael.

Q: Why does it sometimes take three cameras at the same time? Did Michael wanted special pictures? It also seemed that he took more photos of fans than himself?

I remember that he wanted every moment of his life to be saved. Sometimes he wanted a black and white and the other two cameras were color photos. Today, with digital technology, you can convert the color to black and white with no problem, but with the old negatives it was more complicated. I also had three different types of lenses, so I could shoot quickly without having to change them. After a first selection on my part, Michael chose his favorite, and he had good taste selecting the photos! Michael was delighted to see the photos of his fans. They were very important to him.

Q: How did you hear of his sudden death, what was your reaction?

I saw it on TV. I was very, very sad. I felt so sorry that it happened so soon. However, I know he’s up there shining like a star. Every time I see a clear sky at night, I see Michael.

Q: Have you seen the movie Michael Jackson “This Is It“? can you comment on that?

My wife bought me the DVD. I’ve only seen parts of it and I grieved Michael’s death so much that I could not keep watching. Maybe one day I will see it to the end.

Q: What are your plans for the future, John Isaac?

I am finishing a documentary about myself as a photographer. In Japan I’ve been documenting on the survivors of the recent tsunami. While I was in Japan, I met some of Michael’s fans who were very friendly. In addition, Kodak House is preparing a permanent collection of my photographs in their museum. Unfortunately, I have no footage of what I did for Michael on tour or with Michael’s baby. I gave them all to his managers.

Edited and Translated from:
http://wwwyouaremylife-jaqueline.blogspot.com/2011/11/john-seja-meus-olhos-e-me-mostre-tudo-o.html

John’s life story and his wonderful photography:
http://askthephotographer.com/2008/12/31/photographer-profile-john-isaac/

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{ Thanks to our wonderful friends at UK Loves MJ for sharing this story! -Seven }

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7 Responses to ““Be my eyes and show me everything that I cannot see””

  1. nan says:

    I have to say the first thing I noticed about this interview with the picture attached of MJ holding this mans hand.
    Wouldnt we all love to be able to say Michael took our hand …

    I am not so sure that people in the United States who havent traveled can understand the magnitude of suffering Michael saw in other parts of the world..and why it effected him so deeply.
    This man expressed the compassion MJ felt for others less fortunate beautifully…
    I am so glad I got to read this .Thank you.

  2. cjg says:

    Beautiful. Michael really was an angel walking among us.

  3. emma says:

    wonderful story and photo about them! thanks Seven!

  4. Joyce says:

    Such a gorgeous picture and lovely remembrance from another person who was blessed to be able to share a special time with Michael. I never tire of reading all of these memories that are shared. You can just feel the incredible amount of love and respect that Michael gave to everyone.
    Thanks Seven, You have brightened a sad day for me.

  5. cjg says:

    I just wanted to add – I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- story after story keeps coming out about the “real” Michael from various people from different walks of life who had real, long-term relationships with him and there’s not ONE negative story to be had. Finally, the truth prevails (as it should have when he was alive).

  6. tasya says:

    want to see the pict of him and prince……

  7. melina says:

    thanks Seven for sharing this story rue friendship
    is not the outstretched hand, nor the kindly smile
    nor the joy of companionship:
    is the spiritual inspiration when
    we discover that someone believes in us
    and is willing to trust noi.questo feel this wonderful memory

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