Kenneth Jarecke’s uncanny ability to find unseen angles and delicate shadows at major news events has made him one of America’s most preeminent photojournalists. Time after time - during presidential campaigns, the student demonstrations in Tiananmen Square, the Persian Gulf War and the Olympic Games – Jarecke has captured moments and situations unnoticed by the media pack.
Jarecke began his career in 1982 as a freelancer, covering sports for the Associated Press while still a student and football player at the University of Nebraska at Omaha. His breakthrough story came in 1986, when he obtained intimate access to Oliver North and his family during the Iran-Contra hearings, at a time when North was still extremely elusive.
In 1987 and 1988, Jarecke traveled constantly, covering the tumultuous elections in Haiti, a violent I.R.A. funeral in Belfast, and the Seoul Summer Olympics. He was the most published photographer of the 1988 American presidential campaign, and his in-depth coverage of candidate Jesse Jackson earned him his first World Press Photo award.
In 1989, he became a contract photographer for TIME, whose editors were so impressed with his work that they nominated him for the International Center of Photography’s “Emerging Photographer Award.” Jarecke rewarded their confidence by producing spectacular cover stories on New York City, Orlando, and the crisis in America’s ability to provide emergency medical care.
Of these stories, the one on New York, published in September 1990 and entitled “The Rotting of the Big Apple,” attracted worldwide attention. Jarecke’s nine pages of black and white photographs dramatically illustrated the deterioration of America’s greatest metropolis and its signature picture, “Two Bathers,” won the First Prize in the World Press Photo Competition’s Daily Life category.
During the winter of 1991, TIME sent Jarecke on a three-month assignment to Saudi Arabia, where he covered the allied war effort in the Persian Gulf. He would eventually spend time on patrol and cover combat duty with the U.S. Army’s 18th Airborne Artillery Corps. His photograph of an incinerated Iraqi soldier, made on Highway 8 north of Kuwait City, stirred a storm of controversy. American editors refused to run it during the war, citing its extremely visceral nature. Gradually, through its appearance in French and British publications, American magazines noticed it, and it started to appear more widely in the United States, first in AMERICAN PHOTOGRAPHER, and then in TIME's year-end issue. In January 1992 it was awarded the Leica Medal of Excellence. It remains one of the photographic icons of the Gulf War.
In 1996 Jarecke left TIME to become a contract photographer at U.S. NEWS & WORLD REPORT and remained there for ten years.
While making his home in rural Montana, Jarecke continues to shoot cover stories for various magazines on subjects as wide ranging as the underground militia movement, the U.S./Mexico border, the state of public school education, the quality of care in HMOs, and the raucous college-drinking scene in America.
Ken has been represented by Contact Press Images since 1986.