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I am super excited to have been invited to speak and teach here at the
International Photography Festival in Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates this
is the Hall of Fame of photographers from around the world world class guys
who are exhibiting and sharing their knowledge at this astonishing event and
I particularly would like you to meet this guy's Essdras Juarez he is a
multiple Pulitzer award-winning photojournalist what he doesn't know
about decisive moments and capturing breathtaking images in some of the most
demanding and difficult situations is pretty much second to none he's also a
big bundle of fun and a great big-kid we have trouble staying on track this you
know what I'm like Iona nip over to the hotel see if we can catch him because I
love you guys to meet him why photography what excited you about
photography first of all guys let me tell you I'm supposed to be a serious
good looking at this guy's face he just makes me smile so this is not gonna be a
serious interview right after that any cute come on so why photography so I was
actually studying to be a writer a journalist and I grew up reading
National Geographic and so I thought if I study journalism specialize in
magazine writing and get a minor in zoo-ology coz I happen to like animals
that would be the way to do it so my there my first semester of
journalism classes I was taking intro to journalism writing and my advisor was
the same professor and I was struggling came from Panama I learned English from
a very young age but the spoken language and the written language are two
different things and this professor was so harsh that if you made a mistake it
was fifty points Wow so sometimes I would start my test and she'd be like
you owe me 50 points from the previous tests so she know I was struggling so
why is it that you want to be a journalist again and I told her she said
so she called me one day and she said you know Tom Kennedy the director
photographer for National Geographic back then
sallowness of the college he's coming to talk to photographers you should talk to
him I'm like no I know nothing of Photography she said, you're going so she
made me go and I you know it was like eight photo students and I the only
known photographer there and so but it turns out because I had read so many
Geographics I hit it off really well with him so I finally said so doing what
I'm doing studying journalism magazine writing zoology do I have any chance of
working for you guys he's like no like okay that's gonna be good for the ego oh
yeah so he goes you know better chances you
become a photographer I'm like okay what do I do
he said what do you mean he's like how do I become a photographer it's like I
don't know you could apply for the internship and I'm like Wednesday
deadline said December is September I can do that he's like right so I can
draw a bit so I went into the restaurant manager's office of hours on paper I
draw a caricature of him it was him sitting on top of the world says as
Rodin's thinker and said Tom Kennedy National Geographic the world is our
backyard I signed it dated it gave him the original kept a copy and I said then
next time you see that my portfolio is gonna be attached to it he said right
you thought I was a crazy guy and the other students were just kind of shaking
their heads so time goes I get real I dove deep into photography and never
picked up a camera we're talking now I am a junior in college so it's my I
might be 21 21 22 years old and first time I pick up a camera so I started
learning all these things I put a portfolio together I do it on a while
wildlife around the Gainesville northern Florida area and December comes about
the same adviser sees me walk by her office she said come here I heard you've
been working really hard on this portfolio is it ready and he's like yeah
it's ready it's like let me see it so I bring it to you oh this is really good
so when are you gonna send it I'm like you know what the more I started
learning about who this guy was and what the geographic photography is I realized
I should have never talked to him this way that it was ludicrous
so I don't think I want to send it so she said stop it so she took it away and
that was the last I saw of that portfolio in January she calls me back
into her office and she says I guess someone in the phone that wants to talk
to you so I pick up the phone and say hey Essdras this is Tom Kennedy from the
National Geographic photo director Mike hold on a second
what did you do talk to the man what you know I so I get he's a guest on he's
like look you have a long way to go but you have potential I see potential on
you so I need someone who speaks Spanish I need someone who knows about jungles
on tropic I need someone who knows a bit about photography and a bit about
animals so he basically described me at that stage in my life it says and I can
only pay you $50 a day something you're gonna pay me on top of this so I spent
two and a half months working in the jungles of Panama Costa Rica and
Colombia being an assistant to a couple of photographers once I had that
experience I was hooked it's like this is it this is what I'm doing the rest of
my life certainly get it but the thing is that what you did there is you kind
of by doing the cartoon and the caricature and going the next time you
see this you stood out and this is what you got to do yeah yeah we're doing this
with whippet English quickly we're not drinking tea we're drinking fau tea mmm
delightful old boy we're thinking of running a workshop together I think you
should come because it's prepare your absolute last so prepare your ads man
okay come on get on with it Pulitzer Prizes it's about your Pulitzer Prize
because so big time so I had so I'm part of two Pulitzers and that first one was
Columbine there Columbine shooting which explained to famous it was the first big
massacre in the u.s. gun violence sadly no it's every weekend news now in the US
but it was the first one of its kind and out of that there was 20 photos over
entered to appeal it Sarah and I have a photo that I'm sure he'll show you that
it's a funeral is the funeral of one of the boys is a one african-american kid
who will kill and there were 3,000 people that came to view the body in a
casket and I was we were in a high platform up above it was a big mega
church and I was looking down and out of the 3,000 people at first when you get
to a scene like that you start photographing photographing because you
don't know when they're gonna kick you out but we have plenty of time so I kind
of calmed down and after a bit started watching the program for some odd reason
I just focus on this one I don't know why young woman and when
she finally made it in front of the casket I have the whole sequence of hair
with flowers in her hand and she's overwhelmed with emotion and she walks
and she so I have her where you can see their faith of the body and then where
the body is being blocked when they and walking away so it turns out she had
columbines flowers in her hand and in the background you could see that
diploma that he was gonna get if you would have graduated so the editors
picked that photo so it's a powerful photo once you see it you're more you're
really likely not to forget it so that photo means a lot to me however the
second pillar says just work having covered that Boston Marathon bombing and
mine was just one of many photos that were interned we just did a great job
covering the whole thing so but it's it's a great honor again but to me the
first one means more I actually feel a little bit more gratify about something
else called a Robert F Kennedy mmm international photography award by the
way I said that because I knew if he tried to say that he was gonna mess it
up he come in 23rd every practice they
award what was the award so it's not as the RFK and on that one I follow the
body of a witch as a story that's repeating itself again and again this
was like 20 years ago young boy 14 year old was being smuggled into the u.s.
once they cross the border they get to a certain point in the US and then they
sweat out go west go east when they were going through Colorado they were lonely
road middle of the night the guy I've been driving 17 hours all of a sudden
this split of a long road it's a sharp turn and he just kept going straight so
the van overturned 13 people inside two of them died so I was assigned by my
editors to follow the body of a 14 year old back to where he came from in the
mountain of Guatemala so right in the border of Mexico so I followed the body
for three days you know it was a vigilant in the capital city of
Guatemala City and then a whole day of they put the casket in the back of a
pickup truck we get finally get to this little village but the village was like
an hour away so we get to the last place we can drink they tell that the locals
what's going on the locals put a casket and on their shoulders and they start
hiking an hour and I have this great photo in the essay
where you see this big valley you see the village on top and you see a pathway
and you see the line of the villagers and on the foreground you see the big
white box and with their carrying it when people tell me my god you're so
smart you stayed behind to get that shot no I was exhausted
I've been going on for three days straight and I was literally leaning
against the tree sick my body was convulsing and I could barely breathe
because I'm trying to keep up with them and I just thought saw it in-between
heaving I basically took the shot and then I run and I caught up with him but
that photo of the essay is the one that you're gonna see which is of the of the
inside they opened the box and the box their casket with silver so there's
natural light coming in and the whole village is inside this little Hut and
the light is just bouncing off their faces and the mothers there the father's
there it's a very powerful image so I have gotten lucky to have been in the
right spot at the right place many many times that plays a part but also mm-hmm
we've been hanging out for a couple of days shooting stuff and we'll come to
that in a minute but in those few days I kind of know you're quite an emotional
character you care there's there's the popular idea of you know the hard-nosed
photojournalist who dives into someone's funeral but you care your you care about
the people about where you are how do you deal with those emotions and maybe
those conflicts solve within you I'm a true believer that the moment you stop
caring is the moment you'll be good start becoming inefficient at doing your
job so I will say you were born a human being and you will die human being when
you do in the middle that's your work as a fashion matters but at the end you got
to remember you are dealing with human beings therefore you should always walk
and people choose so I try to always approach the situation as if it were my
scenario what if that was my family's funeral my relatives and I have a
perfect stranger coming in what I wanted to stick a camera in my face Oh would I
would I be okay with him being respectful about it so I was trying to
be respectful about it so I try to straddle that line I have a duty to take
this photo to document the story but I also have a duty to these people as a
respect as a human being not to overstep my boundaries and make make us a bad
situation for them even worse so that's just me
we'll have other approaches mm-hmm and I mean just on the subject to the
hard-nosed photojournalist guys he's also a yoga teacher reconcile that I
never seen a photographer work with shades on
never mind gold ones talk to us about shades okay so let's start with the
shades Bart I just wanted you to see this I think they're really cool and my
wife is the one who got me into this mirror thing so but I'll take him up
just out of respect um so you're nice so the thing is the thing is you know I
actually didn't know this but I a lot of my career has been spent working in the
equatorial belt of the world so about I'm almost under the Sun and every
photographer can tell that it's a pain to work under the Sun as a
photojournalist you don't have the luxury own up on the lightest right you
got to work with what you got so at some point I picked up sunglasses
and I noticed that the sunglasses they were cheap they're no good
so I actually has a poor photographer when I bought a pair of ray-bans with
glass with polarized filter in them and expensive and was really bummed I'm like
oh my god this expensive glasses turns out that you can actually deduct the
Meseta it's a tax deduction in the u.s. because your eyes my eyes the way I make
money therefore they are a tool for my job just like my cameras are and I just
got used to it and the whole the fact that they're reflective it just happens
to be in vogue right now but it's very good because it allows me to survey a
seen something there might be a photo over there that I want to take a photo
of and I might be able to just turn my eyes see it if I'm wearing my glasses
and come back and you've seen me do this what I do is if I want to take a photo
of something on it over there and the light is even I'm actually pick
up my camera do the reading so the metering do that set the focal point
where I know it's gonna be because the time I move here I only have about a
fraction of a second to get it right before people react to me somehow I was
trying to walk that line between doing the right thing not being too
surreptitious about taking photos but also being honest with people so that
the shades work and I'm completing use to it and this one specifically they don't
give you any distortion they just actually just tone down the thing so
yeah that's what got it do you know find them cuz they just get in the way
there it out with the eye piece because your camera has no you know I cup on it and
ya know this is part of the reason no the part of the research because I
always give loosen it
god you are alone that most photographers particularly street
photographers thrive on stealth you know they want to be stealthy they hide
behind things use long lenses and keep out the way you are not a stealthy guy
and then a stealthy guy so I am six feet tall I weigh about 215 pounds I put on
big cameras on my shoulders I I have a big waist bag around my back or my waist
and if the weather allows I'd wear a scarf not only because it looks cool and
it does look cool but it actually helps you like with sweat and your mind in my
mind so quickly or it actually you can clean the lenses on in a hurry
hearing charge on Middle East I haven't been able the worst Carter be just
insane it's too hot but so I cannot hide what I'm doing so a long time ago an
editor of mine was a mentor name is Dean Craig ho Zen of a photographer he told
me a stress you embrace the role of being a photographer too much you will
never be the fly on the wall you need to work on that I work try working anybody
didn't work it didn't work so I now have to do completely the opposite I act the
part I am a big photographer with big personality out in the streets and what
I do is I will take a photo in my world it's easier to ask for forgiveness than
it is to ask for permission I will take a photo and then when people and see me
I will stop go to them smile introduce myself telling what I'm doing shown the
photo and I'm not even offering would you like to send me this photo to you
and most people just want to know what you're doing
I try not to hide you know because I said I cannot hide and I truly believe
that most people are okay with having their photo taken that's not to say
there's some people that don't like it but you don't take it personally agree
simply yeah move on sister no it doesn't mean anything personal somebody doesn't
like it you just just move on would you say your speciality is my specialty is
none I am a generalist that recent beam is because having come from the world of
newspaper photography you are given an assignment and you have to fulfill it
you might not like that kind of photography that you have to do in that
moment which first time happen with me on food photography and when I moved to
the Boston Globe from Denver Boston is a big foodie town and it's
their new restaurants popping off so every week as like a columnist that was
one of the most well read and where I was reviewing restaurants and I would
have to photograph food all the time and at the beginning I was no good at it
wasn't I was embarrassingly bad and finally dawned on me I'm like you know
what at the end of the day my name goes by that photo so I need to get good at
it's one I did so if you were to look in my portfolio as dress em Suarez that
PhotoShelter coma just look at strathcom as dress I'm Suarez how do you actually
see there's a food category and I'm really good at it I just don't advertise
it but I saw I'm a generalist I have complete domain of Lights artificial and
natural light I understand it really really well and I can do nature
photography I can do landscape architecture the one thing I really
don't like to photograph it's sports photography mm-hmm
I can do it but it's not my favorite thing to do but other than that I'm game
you point me in the right direction I just got excited over some reflections
on pots over there and up on the black tiles we were walking around we went
shooting and you know we went down we found the old ports and we were walking
around and so stuff and the fish market I told him I was scouting because I'm
teaching here today street photography workshops so before I take my students I
want to scout out the location just so I give him the most amount of options the
visual options I don't wanna take him to an empty place where there are novices
that doesn't work for them so he said can I tag along I said please come on
down the more the merrier so we ended up in the fish market and we did what we do
which is we started shooting and he was animations
real life scene and he was just full of color and the sound god I wish I'm not a
video guy but I wish I would have gotten you were getting so you'll see some of
those photos and then we also play the tourist he cannot come to this area of
the world I don't go to a tallest building in the area so we kind of did
that so there are all these people in this elevator that goes 124 floors in
one minute thing is amazing so you're gonna hurt your ears it's yes
then goes down an aircraft right right it's yeah only without the g-forces
you're there like me hold up so so we get out yeah it's it's a good view Wow
amazing Wow look at all this talk and then of
I'm like ooh floor shiny floats the next thing you know he and I are working on
the ground and we're taking I actually like my photos of the reflections of
people what was going on there more than what I saw outside
yeah they're having fun but there's always more to known that's you know and
I've been saying I'd sleep for a year I reckon some of these guys will let me
say I really want to go on a street photography workshop with someone who is
a master of that genre so it's really cool that we bumped into each other but
it's just like walking around we were in the Gift Shop a tuberculoma that the
tower we're looking at and there's a guy in he's kind of looking at
the gifts is there is there's all these little figurines of the tower and it's
almost like this guy was looking trying to choose which one and they're all the
same he's kind of looking out there and I was
saying how do we get this shot and can I like just you know do a shoot from the
hip drive but like like this without disturbing him because then of course
his body language changes and this guy just kind of walked him you guys no no
no no you're doing this all wrong and it was really cool because he just grabbed
your photo and you tell the guys you're so basically so there's a man standing
there all this figure is right here and he's standing right here and so as a
photojournalist you walk into a scene and you immediately have to take what I
call your bubble of perspective which is the way you see the world you see the
world through your eyes that I label our all times therefore if you present a
brain with information the same way in a photo the brain is like who bored out of
my mind were you boring me so you always got to think of new ways so I
immediately can take that bowl of perspective and I can throw in different
places I can right now picture how a photo would look it's my camera we're
five feet up and pointing down I know that'll be my big ball hat his white
hair his distinguished form and then you would see the table and then the rest
so I actually knew right after right away when the moment I saw the forest
not the man looking to start the photo is because his there the last leg levels
with different figurines you put the do you put the phone below and you shoot up
and he's actually looking at a bunch of figurines and he came out a really cool
photo but I see the world that way wherever I walk into a room I
immediately looking at the possibilities and it boils down to I live by a world
of deadlines all the time therefore sometimes I would walk into place I'd
have five minutes to make a great photo because in ten
my editor needed it so you just get used to thinking really really fast what got
me is like so you reversed the camera so you're onto the selfie camera and then
just rested it on the shelf 45 degrees even glancing you can analyze
what's going on and the phone is looking up so it's actually the principal of a
periscope absolutely awesome but also of course this touches on tool for the job
it's like you couldn't do that shot no the big heavy deer said oh I would have
tried to put my big camera in between the figurines they would have all fallen
on the table that we're doing yeah and that photo would have been gone I'd
rather take a photo with less megapixels but a great photo and not ruin it seem
that actually ruin is seen and not be able to take the photo this is another
thing of course I mean a lot of people sending when they're starting out in
photography they're addicted to war can go above 200 ISO means absolutely well
they'd be shooting the other night when we were at the mosque I don't know 6,400
3,200 somewhere and the photos came out pretty good
yeah they did the real content really matters content to me is by far much
more important than pixel size or anything like that if your photos don't
have good enough good content I don't care how pretty your pixels are not even
working this is the thing we're looking at a photo not a pixel it's a choice
isn't it it's a great light and a great moment and a great emotion and a great
experience we're the bit of grain and a few pixels in it or beautiful creamy
smooth pixels but the whole thing's blurred and it's not gonna work Essdras
you're about to take a street photography workshop hour and I really
wanted to join this man today and I don't know if I can because we're gonna
be out in the hot and the sweaty I got to get back get showered get changed I'm
running workshops all afternoon I exposure and I'm really here in this
right is prissy that's what it's all about
he needs to take a shower he says he doesn't want to buy out on the heat and
then go inside shut your face man yeah give us a Big
Mac bro I'm sure you'll be seeing more of this guy I'm sure we're gonna be
doing some shit together that's right maybe that quitter
rocket rocket put it there see that he left me hanging this is not rehearse
this is the real will go on for okay
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Pulitzer winning photojournalist Essdras Suarez interview - Mike Browne

221 Folder Collection
wangchongli63 published on November 16, 2019
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