Jianan Yu

Jianan Yu

Hefei, China
Wuhu, China
“Every experience of shooting pictures leaves some regrets, and every regret makes you a little bit better.”


I cover all kinds of news events. I like photographing stories that are about unconventional things happening to ordinary people, or that have particular human interest.

One Shot

. HEFEI, China. REUTERS/Jianan Yu
A labourer eats his dinner under his shed at a construction site in a residential complex of Hefei, Anhui province.
“I captured this image by chance, while wondering through the street. I like it very much, not only because of this randomness, but also because when I looked back at it later, I noticed that there were many elements that could be improved. I like this feeling that every experience of shooting pictures leaves some regrets, and every regret makes you a little bit better.”


My earliest memory of photography is of shooting pictures in the countryside when I was young. Later on, I didn’t really go through any professional training; I mainly learnt by reading about the subject and practicing.

I started out as a freelance photographer, trying to find interesting things in my life to photograph, and then sending the pictures to local media.

My first assignment was in 2002, documenting the lives of a group of miners employed in a quarry. They did this high-risk job while hanging from ropes suspended from a cliff, and I photographed their lives both during and after work and then wrote a story to accompany the pictures. I was lucky to have such a good subject to work on for my first assignment.

Working on that story about the miners gave me some experience of all the common challenges in photojournalism: how to work with strong backlight and fast movements, how to tell a story, and how to gather information properly.

The assignment that left the biggest mark on me was about a man who was taken hostage in Liu’an on June 21, 2004. I saw the hostage taker being shot to death by police, but I didn’t manage to capture the moment on camera because of a technical difficulty. I realised that mastering practical shooting skills is just as important as having a quick and bright mind.

I most enjoy photographing humanitarian subjects. But I’m also always ready to jump in and shoot an important breaking news subject.

The Chinese photographer Hou Dengke is someone I admire a lot. As for foreign photographers, I really like the work of Marc Riboud, Henri Cartier-Bresson and Sebastiao Salgado, because their photos reveal truths about life, and make it beautiful and timeless.

Behind the Scenes

Beichuan, China
Reuters photographer Jianan Yu works after a devastating earthquake hit China’s Sichuan province in 2008