ISO 400: Marcus Yam Talks About Covering Natural Disasters

Protesters march after the Grand Jury announced their decision to not charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the case of Michael Brown's shooting, in Los Angeles, CA on, Nov. 25, 2014.  (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)

Protesters march after the Grand Jury announced their decision to not charge Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson in the case of Michael Brown’s shooting, in Los Angeles, CA on, Nov. 25, 2014. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times) ©Los Angeles Times

All images are copyrighted Marcus Yam unless otherwise indicated and are being used with permission.

In this episode of ISO 400, we hear from Marcus Yam, a Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who’s worked for the NY Times, Seattle Times, and the LA Times. He was a part of the team at that covered the devastating Oso landslide for the Seattle Times, which earned the publication a Pulitzer Prize. As an intern for the NY Times, he told the story of Sergeant First Class Eich who had to leave his two young boys behind to go to war. The story became a multimedia package called “The Home Front,” which earned Yam several awards.

In this episode, he talks about freelance life, what it was like to leave aerospace engineering, the benefits of working for a publication full-time, and more.

His work can be found on his website, and you can follow him on Instagram @yamphoto. The episode and a selection of his photographs are below.

As always, our music is provided by Yuki Futami, a NY-based jazz musician.


Sergeant First Class Brian Eisch weeps, as he struggles to say goodbye to his children.  (Photo by Marcus Yam)

Sergeant First Class Brian Eisch weeps, as he struggles to say goodbye to his children. (Photo by Marcus Yam)

Jean Montrevil holds on to his son, Jahsiah, 6, and daughter, Jamya, 3, after hearing a knock on the door. His timetable: 18 months until his deportation order is due. “The American dream is dead,” he says. This is his third deportation order. In time, everything will come to an end, again. (Photograph by Marcus Yam)

Jean Montrevil holds on to his son, Jahsiah, 6, and daughter, Jamya, 3, after hearing a knock on the door. His timetable: 18 months until his deportation order is due. “The American dream is dead,” he says. This is his third deportation order. In time, everything will come to an end, again. (Photograph by Marcus Yam)

On December 14th 2012, a gunman named Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, fatally shot 20 children, 6 adult staff members and wounded 2 more before committing suicide by shooting himself in the head. It was later reported that he had killed his own mother, Nancy Lanza, before making his way to the school. In the days to follow, the world started paying attention to this sleepy, cozy Connecticut town. Community members started making makeshift memorials, organize candlelight vigils and church services to mourn those perished in the violent massacre. Even President Barack Obama visited to pay his respects and mourn. The tragedy started a national conversation about gun violence and gun control. It is the second-deadliest school shooting in the United States history since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre. And in the days to come, twenty something funerals occurring one after another, or even simultaneously as the community buries its loved ones. (Photo by Marcus Yam)

On December 14th 2012, a gunman named Adam Lanza walked into the Sandy Hook elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut, fatally shot 20 children, 6 adult staff members and wounded 2 more before committing suicide by shooting himself in the head. It was later reported that he had killed his own mother, Nancy Lanza, before making his way to the school.
In the days to follow, the world started paying attention to this sleepy, cozy Connecticut town. Community members started making makeshift memorials, organize candlelight vigils and church services to mourn those perished in the violent massacre. Even President Barack Obama visited to pay his respects and mourn. The tragedy started a national conversation about gun violence and gun control. It is the second-deadliest school shooting in the United States history since the 2007 Virginia Tech massacre.
And in the days to come, twenty something funerals occurring one after another, or even simultaneously as the community buries its loved ones.
(Photo by Marcus Yam)

Pretty Yende, a soprano opera singer, will be starring in L.A. Opera's production of The Marriage of Figaro, in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 16, 2015. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)

Pretty Yende, a soprano opera singer, will be starring in L.A. Opera’s production of The Marriage of Figaro, in Los Angeles, Calif., on March 16, 2015. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times) ©Los Angeles Times

Music fans twist and twirl to EDM music inside the Yuma Tent during Day 3 of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., on April 12, 2015. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)

Music fans twist and twirl to EDM music inside the Yuma Tent during Day 3 of the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival in Indio, Calif., on April 12, 2015. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times) ©Los Angeles Times

Protesters confront police officers outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters office, in a second day of protests to the Grand Jury's decision to not charge Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the case of Michael Brown's shooting, in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 25, 2014. By the second night, the Los Angeles police arrested 183 protesters overnight -- a much larger number than in other major cities in the nation on the second night of protests over the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting case. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times)

Protesters confront police officers outside the Los Angeles Police Department headquarters office, in a second day of protests to the Grand Jury’s decision to not charge Ferguson, Mo., police officer Darren Wilson in the case of Michael Brown’s shooting, in Los Angeles, Calif., on Nov. 25, 2014. By the second night, the Los Angeles police arrested 183 protesters overnight — a much larger number than in other major cities in the nation on the second night of protests over the grand jury decision in the Michael Brown shooting case. (Photo by Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times) ©Los Angeles Times

Relatives and friends weep for Thawng Hu, 55, an ethnic Chin refugee from Myanmar in an apartment filled with mirrors in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hu was an United Nations refugee card holder, and was scheduled for resettlement to the United States late 2007, but in April 2007 Hu was captured and deported after an immigration raid by immigration officers to the Malaysia-Thailand border where deportation cases are handed over to human trafficking agents. Hu's relatives paid ransom, and at dawn on Tuesday, August 7, 2007, trafficking agents returned a dead body. (Photo by Marcus Yam)

Relatives and friends weep for Thawng Hu, 55, an ethnic Chin refugee from Myanmar in an apartment filled with mirrors in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Hu was an United Nations refugee card holder, and was scheduled for resettlement to the United States late 2007, but in April 2007 Hu was captured and deported after an immigration raid by immigration officers to the Malaysia-Thailand border where deportation cases are handed over to human trafficking agents. Hu’s relatives paid ransom, and at dawn on Tuesday, August 7, 2007, trafficking agents returned a dead body. (Photo by Marcus Yam)