Edward Serotta and two Securitate informers.
Hotel Continental, Bucharest, 1985.
I was born in Savannah, Georgia, in 1949, graduated in marketing from the University of Tennessee in 1972 and held various jobs before settling on photography and journalism.
In 1985 I began traveling to Central Europe to begin photographing Jewish communities and in early 1988 I sold everything I had in the US and moved to Budapest.
I thought, “If anything happens politically, I can shoot that, too.” Some things did happen. Lots of things. Incredible things—and the photographs in this exhibition were all taken between the late 1980s and 1990 in six countries that fascinated me: Bulgaria, Romania, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, Poland and the German Democratic Republic.
I continued to photograph in this region for another ten years and freelanced for Die Zeit, Süddeutsche Zeitung, The Independent, The Guardian, Associated Press, The Observer, The Los Angeles Times, New York Newsday and Time Magazine. Between 1996 and 1999 I also made four films for ABC News Nightline.
There have been twenty-nine exhibitions of my work, mostly in Germany, the US, Canada, Great Britain, Austria, Spain and Israel and between 1991 and 1996 I published a trilogy of photography books on Jews in Central and Eastern Europe.
In 2000 I effectively stopped working as a photographer when I teamed up with two Hungarian historians – Dori Sardi and Eszter Andor – to launch www.centropa.org , a Vienna-based Jewish historical institute that digitized 25,000 old family photographs belonging to 1,200 elderly Jews still living in fifteen European countries.
Csaba and Otti at the Hanukkah dance, Hotel Gellert, December, 1989.