AAPI Heritage Month: Julie Jacobson

Julie JacobsonJulie Jacobson is an AP staff photographer based in Las Vegas who has covered major disasters and dramatic events in the United States and overseas. Her assignments have included floods in the Midwest, hurricanes in Florida, the wars in Iraq war and Afghanistan, and the Haiti earthquake. A native of Overland Park, Kansas, Jacobson graduated from the University of Kansas, worked as a staff photographer at the Kansas City Star before joining AP.

Julie Jacobson

How long have you been in photojournalism?

I’ve been in photojournalism for 22 years.

How and why did you decide to become a photojournalist?

Like most college students, I thought I knew what I wanted to do. I started out pre-med but still needed an actual major. Through the process of trying to find a major (didn’t want biology) I found that I liked science a lot but didn’t have a passion for it. But I really enjoyed learning about different cultures and places, people and their histories. I’d never considered journalism or even photojournalism even though I was always playing with my SLR camera and making candid photos of my roommates and friends. Then one day paging through a National Geographic magazine reading a story about an ancient site in Egypt under excavation, I realized that someone had to be there to make the photos. That was a decisive moment in which I realized I could combine my love of learning about a variety of subjects and share that knowledge and those experiences with others through images. I enrolled in the J-School for the next semester and the first black and white print I ever made was a magical moment watching the image slowly appear in the developer. I was hooked. I never looked back to pre-med again.

What do you love most about photography?

For me photography is sort of a personal journey in which the more I learn about others by observation and interpretation, the more I learn about myself and grow as an individual. I also always find it a privilege to be invited into someone’s private life not only to get a glimpse of it, but also to have permission to respectfully share it with others.

How has being an AAPI helped/hurt your photojournalism career?

It’s not something I’ve ever really considered. I’m half Jewish (eastern European), too, and rarely think of myself as either an AAPI or as Jewish. To be honest I don’t know that it’s hurt or helped in any respect. People only bring attention to my ethnicity because they can’t tell what I am. If it has hurt or helped, I’ve been blind to it.

What advice did you wish someone gave you when you were starting out?

Find ways to pursue the stories you are passionate about. Work hard at being good at the things that you have less enthusiasm for. Either way, always find a way to enjoy what you are doing or at least learn something valuable from the experience. Embrace the process and the pictures will reveal themselves. When you like what you do it shows in your work. And when that happens, good things come.


A United States Marines CH-46E Sea Knight helicopter with the 3rd Marine Air Wing’s HMM 268th helicopter unit, passes over a herd of camels as it heads back to base after dropping off some troops at a forward position in Iraq Monday, March 31, 2003. (Julie Jacobson | AP)


An Iraqi boy offers some water to a United States Marine of Kilo Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines, while he was out on patrol Friday, April 11, 2003 in a neighborhood near central Baghdad. Marines patrolled through streets in search of any remnants of resistance as well as intelligence on weapons caches or hiding places of enemy forces. (Julie Jacobson | AP)


An Iraqi man, suspected of involvement in attacks on coalition forces, is questioned in the living room of his home during a raid by the 82nd Airborne Division Wednesday, Jan. 14, 2004 near Fallujah, Iraq.  (Julie Jacobson | AP)


Britney Spears, left, and Madonna kiss during the opening performance of the MTV Video Music Awards at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, on Aug. 28, 2003. On Aug. 1 MTV marks 25 years on the air.   (Julie Jacobson | AP)

Dayron Robles

 Cuba’s Dayron Robles, left, races ahead to win the men’s 110m hurdles race at the Pan American Games in Rio de Janeiro, on July 28, 2007.  (Julie Jacobson | AP)

APTOPIX Haiti Earthquake

A woman stands in line with about 2,000 other people as U.S. Army soldiers of the 82nd Airborne Division distribute one liter of water each at a camp set up on a golf course in Port-au- Prince, Wednesday, Jan. 20, 2010. International aid flowing into Haiti after last week’s earthquake has been struggling with logistical problems, and many people are still desperate for food and water.  (Julie Jacobson | AP)

On the Beam

In this multiple exposure frame taken at one-sixth of a second intervals, Anna Li performs on the balance beam during the preliminary round of the women’s Olympic gymnastics trials, Friday, June 29, 2012, in San Jose, Calif.  (Julie Jacobson | AP)

The Art of Gymnastics

In this Friday, Aug. 10, 2012 photo, South Korea’s Son Yeon-jae performs during the rhythmic gymnastics individual all-around qualifications  at the 2012 Summer Olympics, in London.  (Julie Jacobson | AP)


San Diego Padres center fielder Dave Roberts leaps for a ball hit by New York Mets’ Mike Cameron during the fourth inning Tuesday, July 19, 2005 at Shea Stadium in New York.  (Julie Jacobson | AP)

Athletics Isinbayeva Award

  Russia’s Yelena Isinbayeva reacting as she breaks the world record as she wins gold in the women’s pole vault final  during the athletics competitions in the National Stadium  at the Beijing 2008 Olympics in Beijing. Olympic pole vault champion and world record holder Yelena Isinbayeva has been voted female European athlete of the year. (Julie Jacobson | AP)