John Wilkerson studied photojournalism at the University of Southern Mississippi. Only a year away from graduation John decided on a career change and became a police officer with the Waveland Police Department on the Mississippi gulf coast. John didn't forget his education though, he was often called upon to photograph crime scenes for his department as well as the rest of Hancock County.
In the 1980's with the encouragement of a now retired SunHerald newspaper reporter, John became a stringer for the paper. Over the years John has provided news photos for the Sun Herald, Sea Coast Echo, Associated Press, and MSNBC. With the decline of the print news, stringing became impossible due to the low rates the papers were paying for photos.
After Hurricane Katrina John wanted people to know just what had and was happening in his hometown of Bay St. Louis, MS. John started his first website to show just what was lost to the storm. Debris photos and video showed that there was devastation but didn't show just what was lost.
The day before Katrina struck, knowing how other hurricanes had changed the face of his city, John photographed many of the beach homes in Bay St. Louis and Waveland as well. Shortly after Katrina hit, John returned to those locations and photographed what was left. These photos were picked up by MSNBC and used on their webpage, "Katrina, Rising from the Ruin". MSNBC contacted John again on the five year anniversary of Katrina and looking for "now" photos to go along with the before and after on their website. This display of before, after and now photos earned awards for MSNBC. After the photos ran on the MSNBC website the first time, NBC Nightly News interviewed John for their nightly segment, "In his own words". During the segment John was asked why he had taken the before photos and what was his motivation for taking the after photos and launching his website.
Of all the work John did after Katrina, his favorite was when his longtime friend and CNN reporter Kathleen Koch told him she was writing a book and wanted to used his photographs. To John's surprise and pleasure Kathleen chose one of his photos to appear on the cover of her book, "
Rising from Katrina: How My Mississippi Hometown Lost It All and Found What Mattered"
John's photos also appeared in a book published by the SunHerald Newspaper in Biloxi MS. "
Katrina: Before and After".
Today John's focus has turned to photographing wildlife with an emphasis on birds of the Mississippi Coast.