I cover events that – to a greater or lesser extent – move the world. Everything from current affairs to conflict, sports and entertainment. Visiting Afghanistan and Iraq repeatedly over the past ten years has given me a new perspective on conflict, on political discourse and on life itself.
My first memory of photography is getting a camera from my uncle for my seventh birthday. I kept on taking pictures with it, just like my parents, who always took pictures of things we did. I loved looking through the lens and seeing the world from a different angle.
I am a complete autodidact. I experimented with taking pictures, and that's how I learnt what could work. The only things I learnt at school were how to develop film and make prints.
The 750th anniversary of Berlin was my first assignment. I topped up my student pocket money by shooting pictures of the official parade and fireworks for the local council. Telling a story with pictures – and ultimately only choosing the right ones – was the core of the assignment, and has never left me since.
The fall of the Berlin Wall on the night of Nov. 9, 1989, left a huge mark on me. I heard the news, and ran out with friends to photograph the night away. It changed the course of my life in very many ways – partly because it was the first time I sold pictures to a newspaper. The thing that had the biggest impact on me personally was, as a West Berliner, walking through the Brandenburg Gate at night. Soldiers, who were normally ready to stop and shoot anyone, were there, but nothing happened. It was a moment I will never forget.
The most exciting assignments are the ones where I can be closest to people and their stories. Whether on the street or in a combat zone, whether dealing with a politician, an athlete or any other subject – I think the purpose of photography is relaying emotional poignancy, and I see it as a responsibility to capture that.
Always be prepared. You need to be ready when the moment strikes – if you miss it, you can’t bring it back.
I respect all people who risk their lives to make the truth known, and who risk their safety or happiness for their chosen cause.
Press photography is the memory of modern civilisation, it’s a mirror on the world.