Dondi Tawatao

Dondi Tawatao

Manila, Philippines
Quezon City, Philippines
“My biggest lesson has been to wait and to have patience. Enormous amounts of patience.”


Features, documentaries and editorial photography. I have covered major disasters like Typhoons Haiyan and Ketsana, the New People’s Army and the drug war.

One Shot

. Manila, Philippines. Reuters/Dondi Tawatao
“"This was one of the first images I took for Reuters. The body of a victim of drug-related shooting lying on a stretcher. You realise that your work, your part in documenting what goes on, becomes all the more important because that statistic is a person and you need to tell that story to illustrate the greater tragedy unfolding."”


I never took a formal course in photography. I taught myself the basics through trial and error, just going out and photographing subjects. It was a frustrating process at first.

Visuals are always powerful. Like it or not, the worst in the human condition is always best demonstarted through photojournalism: the Rohingya crisis, the war in Syria or the drug war in the Philippines. Telling stories through photography is always an examination of the human conscience.

I found covering the drug war exciting. I had been covering Duterte during the elections, and the violent rhetoric was there during the campaign - he was saying that he would rid the streets of drugs. I wanted to see for myself how the situation would unfold if he won. I started taking night shifts to photograph the conflict before he formally took office.

There is a need to tell stories as factually as possible so that people may know and understand the reality of world events.

I always think of the outside world when taking pictures. How people look at the world through your lens can have a huge impact on public opinion.

My biggest lesson has been to wait and to have patience. Enormous amounts of patience.

Always listen to your instincts and always follow the story. Chase, even if you are just starting out. Photojournalism is a craft and you can only perfect your craft with more experience. Respect your subjects and be aware of their space and the space they give you. The moment to shoot will always be there, you just have to be patient. And always end your interaction with a handshake.

Behind the Scenes