In a social media-driven world where our feeds are overrun with images of friends’ food, self-obsessed selfies and Baby Yoda memes, New Hope resident Bob Krist is standing out by capturing the people and places that (you guessed it) stand out.
Recently, Krist, who is proudly approaching 70, released his 12th book of photography. Entitled Old Souls & Timeless Places, the 96-page coffee table creation features black-and-white photos of individuals he has encountered throughout his vast 40-year career, all of whom defy cultural norms.
“This is a book that’s summing up a whole career of being on the road and meeting people on all seven continents, and the residue of visiting over 150 countries and finding the places that really stick in your heart and your mind,” he told The Times.
Wanderlust hit Krist during his teenage and college years, when he could usually be found pouring over the latest edition of National Geographic.
“It was my bible. It was the boomers’ version of the internet when we wanted to see what a faraway place looked like,” he explained.
After working for five years as a newspaper photographer in Union City, New Jersey in the ‘70s, Krist, who longed to be on the road, began to freelance. As luck would have it, National Geographic was in need of someone with his skills, and sent him on countless assignments around the world. Krist’s work has also appeared in Smithsonian, Travel & Leisure and other publications.
“Because I was working a lot of the time for travel magazines, I would have to do the glossy kinds of things, the boy and the girl on the beach. But whenever I went on assignment, I was always looking to capture the history and the culture of the area,” he said. “Even though I was doing the main assignment for a more commercial kind of look at the place, I always went and dug for more authentic people on my own and often shot them in black-and-white as opposed to color.”
During his work, Krist has been stranded on a glacier in Iceland, nearly run down by charging bulls in southern India, and knighted with a cutlass during a Trinidad voodoo ceremony.
Still, he would go back and do it all again.
While each person featured in Old Souls & Timeless Places is special to Krist, a few are extra memorable. For example, the book includes a portrait of an Old Norse priest in Iceland, where Krist spent four months shooting a story for National Geographic in the ‘80s. At the time, there was a huge NATO base in the area, which the man opposed.
“He used to protest the NATO base. He used to go outside the gates and chant and everybody thought he was crazy. He was a harbinger of this strange religion, which is more of just a folklore society. Sure enough, after a few years of him out there chanting, the NATO base folded up and left, and the Norse religion is still going strong,” Krist said. “He was a really interesting old guy that just lived a different life than you and I on an isolated farm, a way of life that was more out of the 1800s than the 20th century, and certainly the 21st century.”
Another standout for Krist is a photograph of a midwife in Tobago called The Matron, who operated a small, two-bed hospital in the hills. The image shows The Matron holding a book, which contains the names of the more than 1,000 babies she delivered.
“These are the off-beat people, the people who are doing something a little different and a little almost out of time from a different era than we live now. And they’re fading,” Krist said. “Those people are fading, so this book chronicles that.”
Proceeds from Old Souls & Timeless Places benefit the Jonathan Krist Foundation, named in memory of Krist’s son, who passed away 12 years ago.
“He was a social activist. The charity provides scholarships for inner-city kids in Trenton and Camden, music scholarships, also teaching awards to teachers who work in underserved areas, underserved schools, and a lot of environmental education as well,” Krist said.
Since the foundation was formed, 53 students have received a total of $233,000 in scholarships.
Old Souls & Timeless Places is available at Farley’s Bookshop, 44 S. Main St., New Hope, where Krist will host a book signing and talk on Saturday, Dec. 14, at 7 p.m. Visit farleysbookshop.com/home for more information. ••
Samantha Bambino can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org