Akintunde Akinleye

Akintunde Akinleye

Lagos, Nigeria
Lagos, Nigeria
“As a Reuters photographer everybody is waiting for your pictures and you don’t want to betray the trust that they have in you.”


I cover breaking news, documentary pieces and human-interest stories

One Shot

. Lagos, Nigeria. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
A man rinses soot from his face at the scene of a gas pipeline explosion near Nigeria's commercial capital, Lagos.
“When I took this shot at first I felt it might be too artistic for a news story and I thought maybe my editors wouldn’t accept it. In the end, I sent it in anyway and then I got a text saying ‘you’ve just taken a world class picture’. The image later won the World Press Photo award in 2007.”


I began to learn the elements of photography from an after-school workshop I did when I was 11 years old. My mum enrolled me in the course. I think she felt I was too playful!

Much later in life, after secondary school, I bought a camera and started selling pictures. It wasn’t some hobby: I was poor and I wanted to make money. I would go out and take pictures on the street, go home and print them and then sell them. I used the money to help pay for my university entrance exams.

My first photojournalism assignment was for a local newspaper in 2003, which sent me to cover a nationwide labour union strike. I really enjoyed it, and the experience gave me an idea of what I should be doing.

The violent killings that took place in Jos, central Nigeria, during a religious riot in 2010 left the biggest mark on me. Over 500 people were slashed to death. It was the first time I had to shed tears during my journalism career. I felt the whole thing down to my spine.

I really enjoy covering human-interest stories. Sometimes as a photographer you want to be happy, you want to get closer to your subjects, you want to see into their homes. To really enjoy what you’re doing you have to be part of the story, and I get that kind of fulfilment covering human-interest subjects.

My biggest lesson has been to meet deadlines. At Reuters, some people ask you to send in pictures in an hour and there’s no space to wait until tomorrow. As a Reuters photographer everybody is waiting for your pictures and you don’t want to betray the trust that they have in you.

Behind the Scenes

. Lagos, Nigeria. Aderinsola Adebanjo
Akintunde Akinleye rides in a canoe in the Makoko riverine fishing community near the Lagos Lagoon in Nigeria.