I cover general news and am particularly interested in stories about health, mining and social issues.
My earliest memories of photography are small, black and white photos of my grandmother’s family. I remember the studio portraits that hung on the walls at her house showing her and my grandfather when they were young. And I remember my father photographing me with a little camera in my grandmother’s garden, next to a newly planted cherry tree.
At the end of high school I wanted to go and study photography at university. That meant taking a photography exam, so I started shooting with an old film Minolta and had a second-year student teach me the basics of how to use the camera, get to grips with composition, and develop film in his small kitchen in my hometown.
I started out as a photographer for a small shopping magazine in the town where I grew up. I was both taking pictures and writing for the publication and I would photograph watches, T-shirt stores, pet shops, construction material shops, etc.
About a year ago I went to photograph workers at a sapphire mine in the Madagascan rain forest. I had read an article in The Telegraph on the sapphire rush and how it could lead to environmental catastrophe because the forest where it was taking place had unique biodiversity. In the end, however, that was not really the story I saw. It was more a story about poverty and about the great sacrifices people made as they searched for the precious stones to make money to feed themselves and their families. The mine was an awful place, some kind of hell. The miners cut down trees in the valley so there were fallen trunks everywhere. There was so much mud down there and it rained every night and every other day. A few thousand people were living in rudimentary plastic houses, there were no toilets, no clean water and no doctors. Still, everybody was so open and kind. I was really impressed both by the great sacrifices these people were making and also by how kind and helpful they were.
When I take pictures, I don’t think so much about my audience as about the people I am photographing and about the story I am seeing. I think that if you are honest and care about the story you are shooting, then your audience will be happy.
I admire people who are culturally sensitive and open to understanding that not everybody has to be like them.