OSI's Public Health Program mourned the passing of 56-year-old documentary photographer John Ranard on May 14. John began photographing Russia's emerging HIV epidemic in 1995 and provided moving images for several programs working in the region, including OSI's International Harm Reduction Development Program. John had a passionate understanding of the injustices of HIV in Russia, and never forgot the humanity of his photographic subjects.
AIDS Foundation East/West and Medecins Sans Frontieres jointly published a book of John’s photographs, The Fire Within, as a policy statement on the need for harm reduction in Eastern Europe. His work for a 1997 New York Times story on the AIDS epidemic in the former Soviet Union won the first place Pictures of Year award for Issue Reporting Photo Story. The photographs are included in the anthology Pandemic: Facing AIDS (2003).
John’s portfolio “The Brutal Aesthetic” won the Kentucky Arts Grant—Al Smith Fellowship, and was published in Joyce Carol Oates’s On Boxing, which was named one of the Best Photography Books of 1987 by the International Center of Photography.
John’s photographs are part of the permanent collections of the Brooklyn Museum, the University of Louisville Photographic Archives, and the Andrei Sakharov Museum. OSI featured the work of John Ranard as part of its photography exhibition Moving Walls in 2005.
John was a good friend to OSI and many activists and people who use drugs in Eastern Europe. His sense of humor, gentleness and brilliant eye will be sadly missed.