The Digital Journalist
Eliza Wells
Farmboy. Antique Gas Engine Show. Bangor, Pennsylvania, 1987.
"I think of Jocelyne and hear her throaty, strong voice, her deep laugh, hear her conversations with the photographers, nurturing them as she would a dream, refusing to let in any compromising forces. Her photographers were beacons in the night for her, soldiers battling the dark forces of sterile photography for the integrity of the true photograph. "I want poets!"

I met Jocelyne in 1989, just back in New York after 2 years printing for Larry Fink in Pennsylvania. Fresh off the farm, I walked up those stairs on East 74th Street, smelling the cigarette that was dangling from the lips of a tiny woman who opened the door, looked me up and down, yelled at some person on the phone and hung up. I laughed. She smiled and said "I like you." An hour later she said, "When can you start?" SO I rented an apartment 2 blocks away, just knowing that would work for what promised to be an intense experience.

For 2 years, I worked with Jocelyne. Working with Jocelyne was a 3-D event. It was a love affair with the soul of photography, often involving 3 meals a day, but lunch at the dining room table was requisite - every day for 2 years. You can only imagine how much I learned at that lunch table.

The days were filled with intense stories about intense, ruptured places and peoples all over the world - but then in the late '80s, JB was mostly focused on Central America, Haiti, Afghanistan and subcultures in America. Some lady from the State Department used to come look at pictures. Jocelyne didn't care for that one bit.

For those 2 years, I stood upstairs at my light table and eyed film fresh from the lab, film the photographers in the field had yet to see. Maggie Steber's Haitian massacres spilled onto the table. Josef Polleros's mujihadeen trailed through Afghanistan. I had my own laugh putting Contras and the Sandinistas next to each other on the table. Truth is, none of the subjects were funny (except for maybe Mark Peterson's).

Jocelyne knew when to play, when to be a coquette, when to be a woman. We went to dinner one night at a Turkish restaurant. She only had a credit card and they only accepted cash. I was broke. In the end, charming Jocelyne delivered our dinner on the house. We left and went to a store next door where she bought me a pair of boots, not just any boots: black suede thigh-high boots. Jocelyne loved them. I was afraid of them. "You bring me good luck." What a woman.

Jocelyne put her foot down when her intuition told her what to do. She listened to it. Photographers and editors alike realized her power and trusted her. And that is why so many photographers did so well. I called her Midas.

From my perch upstairs, I could hear Jocelyne below removing the external persona from her photographers, getting to their hearts. She was teaching. She was nurturing with tough love. All this because she cared so much.

Then I would hear those little size 5 feet marching upstairs. She'd look at me and the next 30 seconds would go something like this: "Take your hair out of that silly barrette, Eliza! You look like a little girl! Be a beautiful woman! Oh, look at those - oh Maggie, Maggie ... machetes and bodies. Let's send these out today. I'm hungry. Let's have a nicoise and baguettes. Tuna. I think we have the cover of Newsweek again. Is Mark Peterson having lunch with us? Do we have enough?" ... And she'd go back downstairs.

Jocelyne was brave. She believed. She cared. She was sage and bold. She believed in her vision. And the responsibility for her photographers was immense - they had to believe as well. I think she even trained editors.

Thank You, Jocelyne - for teaching me to be a woman in a man's world and proud of it. Thank You for your trust in me so young. Thank You for your intense beauty. Thank You for lunch. Rest in Peace, Beautiful Jocelyne."