Jonah M. Kessel - Director of Cinematography - New York Times


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Gen X photo bum finds journalism, makes good. Well, ok, there’s about 15 more steps in the middle that leaves out. And like 60+ countries. Jonah Kessel (@jonah_kessel) is proof that the right camera can change someone’s life. Now at The New York Times, he is constantly trying to push the limits of what video and visuals can do, even when those limits are the visible spectrum of light.

Countries featured: China, USA, Algeria, Hong Kong

Publications featured: Burlington Free Press, Tahoe Daily Tribune, La Voix de l'Oranie, Sawt Al Gharb ( صوت الغرب ), China Daily, The New York Times

Jonah discusses growing up in Vermont (6:24), dropping out of Tulane University to wander the U.S. for 3 years (9:58), going back to school for three different countries (14:10), sweet-talking his way into a job at a Lake Tahoe newspaper (19:14), working in Algeria as a newspaper consultant (26:54), being recruited to redesign the China daily (29:32), the glory days freelancing and joining the NYT in not-so-old Beijing (35:28), an exit from China that was complicated in terms of his visa and medically (49:58), the insane plane-flying, ice-cold-camera-sensor shooting behind the groundbreaking NYT story about methane leaks (1:01:36) and the lightning round (1:11:13)

Here are links to some of the things we talked about:

Jonah's first NYT piece on Zhao Liang (scroll half way down for video) -

Jonah’s NYT project on methane emissions -

How he did the methane story -

The Social Dilemma on Netflix -

Nicholas Kristof on Twitter -

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas on Amazon -

Follow us on Twitter @foreignpod or on Facebook at

Music: LoveChances ( by Makaih Beats



40 episodes