James Lukoski (1955-2015)

Self-portrait. ©James Lukoski

Self-portrait. ©James Lukoski

Time is passing all too quickly. It seems only a few months ago that I wrote a remembrance or elegy for the American-born photographer, Jerry Berndt, who died in Paris, where he’d been living for years. The truth is, I wrote that elegy back in 2013.

Time is passing all too quickly. The artists that I’ve personally known who passed away over the last year or so include the brilliant and provocative writer Charles Bowden, the deeply talented photographers Mary Ellen Mark and Charles Harbutt, and most recently the photojournalist James Lukoski.

I first came to know Jim Lukoski in 1979, when I was a teacher, he a student at the International Center of Photography in New York City. Over the next decade, we had a go at being roommates, accompanied each other on assignments, fostered a true, if at times troubled, friendship. What will remain my fondest memory of Jim is his gentle, loving treatment of my then girlfriend, later first wife, Dorothea Lynch. When Dorrie was most ravaged by terminal breast cancer, he would find ways to make her laugh. He always made her feel beautiful.

Dorothea and Jim, New York, 1981.  ©Eugene Richards

Dorothea and Jim, New York, 1981.  ©Eugene Richards

Last Wednesday, July 15th, Jim died of an apparent heart attack in Staten Island. The brief obituary that follows is something that Jim’s brother Gary and I cobbled together. It is brief, but we didn’t want any more time to pass before informing you of what happened.

Grafitti in refugee camp, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1990.  ©James Lukoski

Grafitti in refugee camp, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1990.  ©James Lukoski

Child injured in bombing, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1990.  ©James Lukoski

Child injured in bombing, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1990.  ©James Lukoski

James Allen Lukoski of Staten Island, New York, passed away at home on July 15, 2015. James was born in Ripon, Wisconsin, on January 8, 1955. He attended Ripon and Green Lake public schools and lived in the Ripon area for the first 24 years of his life. After high school James worked for The Green Lake Marina, Tuscumbia Country Club and The Heidel House Resort. His sporting interests included karate and sailing in local races on Green Lake. He loved animals, especially dogs. He rescued many stray dogs throughout his life and gave them a good home and much attention. He also developed a strong interest in photography while living and working in Green Lake.
James studied photography at The International Center of Photography in New York City. He worked as a freelance photographer beginning in 1979. His work has appeared in LIFE Magazine, The New York Times Magazine, People Magazine, The Independent Magazine, TIME, Newsweek, Stern, American Photographer and Fortune, among others. His coverage included photographs of Wisconsin farm life, stray dogs let loose in the city, New York’s Central Park and the Gulf war from both the American and Iraqi perspective. Most notable, perhaps, was his coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict of the late 1980s and early 1990s. His photographs, the Huffington Post wrote, “reveal the tragedy of the conflict, the toll it took on the general population as seen in the faces of people he photographed.”
From 1988 through 1990 he was a member of the photographic agency JB Pictures and from 1990 through 1994 he was a member of Black Star. In 1987 he was awarded a fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. He was a recipient of the 1990 Journalism fellowship from the Alicia Patterson Foundation. He was a recipient of a Canon Photo Essayist/Missouri School of Journalism Award for his work on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. He taught photography at the International Center of Photography in New York, at the Martha’s Vineyard School of Photography and the Maine Photographic Workshop. His most recent exhibition was a one-man show, entitled “Black and White, but mostly Gray,” held in 2011 at The GreenPoint Gallery in Brooklyn.
James is survived by his brother Gary Lukoski. He was preceded in death by his parents, Clarence and Genevieve Lukoski. 
 

Those of you who didn’t know Jim's work might want to search out his photography on the Getty Images and the Alicia Patterson websites, where you’ll find examples of his strong, heartfelt coverage of the Israeli-Palestinian conflicts of the late 1980s and early 1990s. Some of the links are below:

Getty Images
Alicia Patterson: New Miseries
Alicia Patterson: Faces of the Anguished