Darrin Zammit Lupi

Darrin Zammit Lupi

Valletta, Malta
Sliema, Malta
“With the growing dominance of the Web, it is no longer as essential to be able to tell the whole story in a single image. But when you manage that, then you can really say you've clinched it.”


The main story here is irregular immigration – sub-Saharan Africans crossing from North Africa to Europe in unsafe rickety boats, with horrific loss of life. The Libyan civil war also kept me busy, with Malta having been one of the main evacuation hubs. I also cover sport, entertainment, and daily life, and occasionally get to help out in Italy as well.

One Shot

. VALLETTA, Malta. REUTERS/Darrin Zammit Lupi
A would-be immigrant climbs onto an Armed Forces of Malta ship after being transferred from a trawler.
“I like to say that my favourite is the one I haven't taken yet. But if pressed, I guess I'd say a strong contender is the picture of an African immigrant climbing onto a rescue boat, with the light of the rising sun catching his face as soldiers' gloved hands, in shadow, reach out for him.”


My first picture? I must have been about six or seven, using a toy camera loaded with black and white film I'd got for Christmas from my parents. I vaguely recall taking a picture of my cousins in my grandmother's house after Christmas Day lunch, as they went through piles of wrapped presents, trying to figure out which were theirs.

My dad subscribed to National Geographic at the beginning of 1980 and I was instantly hooked on photojournalism. But it was the issue dealing with the eruption of Mount St Helen's that sealed it for me.

I learnt to photograph by shooting miles of film, devouring photography books and magazines, going to exhibitions, leafing through newspapers, and trying to imitate what I saw. After I won an award in a local photography competition, a magazine ran a short feature on me. The publishers were also an advertising agency and started giving me odd jobs here and there.

My first assignment was shooting the interiors and exteriors of a hotel. Knowing now what that involves to do properly, I think they were nuts to give such a job to an absolute beginner. But I'm not complaining, it helped get me going.

I eventually did some training with the National Council for the Training of Journalists in the UK, and more recently completed a Masters Degree in Photojournalism and Documentary Photography at the University of the Arts, London.

I visited Uganda with an NGO on a field study trip concerning the Millennium Development Goals. I felt it was important to get a feel of the situation in Africa, since my home country of Malta has been so affected by immigration from there. Seeing the poverty and the desperate situation experienced by many people was a real eye opener. Since then I’ve been trying to return to Africa, visiting different countries, on an annual basis shooting for another NGO.

I enjoy covering soccer: it's one type of assignment where the pressure's really on, as you have to shoot, edit, caption and transmit, all at the same time! I also love shooting stage productions.

I learnt a big lesson the hard way in Rome when I went to an assignment without my laptop and had to return to the bureau in order to file, and consequently I missed “the picture”. I learnt never to go anywhere without my laptop and the capability to file pictures on site.

I respect all my colleagues at Reuters, many of whom are working and producing incredible bodies of work in circumstances infinitely more demanding than mine.

No working day is like another, and by and large we're getting paid to practice our number one hobby. What could ever beat that?

I hope that over the years I've managed to go beyond simply recording an event. Nowadays, if the light is right, I find myself reacting to the aesthetic of the scene first, rather than the content per se, which I feel is important to making stronger and different photographs.

With the growing dominance of the Web, it is no longer as essential to be able to tell the whole story in a single image. But when you manage that, then you can really say you've clinched it.

Being a photojournalist wreaks havoc with your social life: you can't really make plans, and it can be pretty tough on the family too. Having a supportive family is essential, or you'll quickly end up with no family at all. A big thank you to my very supportive wife and daughter!

I'm convinced there will always be a huge demand for high-quality still news photography, and I hope I'll still be doing it throughout my career.

Behind the Scenes

Darrin Zamit Lupi (left) hands over a rescued baby to a medic on the Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) ship Topaz Responder.
. Brega, Libya
Darrin Zammit Lupi photographs anti-Gaddafi fighters at an oil refinery.