Jim Bourg

Jim Bourg

Washington DC, United States
Washington DC, United States
“Learning to compose your images properly, being ready for key moments before they happen and then calmly capturing them when they do are the marks of the most accomplished news photographers.”


Currently I mainly cover U.S. politics and the President of the United States. Previously, I travelled to every U.S. state and more than a dozen countries for Reuters, covering disasters, sporting events like the Olympics and World Cup, summits of world leaders, conflicts and political news.

One Shot

. HEMPSTEAD, United States. REUTERS/Jim Bourg
U.S. Republican presidential nominee John McCain reacts to almost heading the wrong way off the stage after shaking hands with Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
“My favorite image and arguably my most widely published ever is one of Senator John McCain reacting behind President Barack Obama at the conclusion of their final debate of the 2008 U.S. presidential campaign. Despite being surrounded by a room full of top-notch news photographers at the time, I was lucky enough to be the only one to capture McCain with his tongue all the way out of his mouth.”


I started shooting pictures in middle school, and by the time I was a 16-year-old high school student, I had became the youngest freelance photographer ever to work on assignment for the Washington Post.

I got my start as a freelancer by going out on my own and shooting rioting in Washington after the Shah of Iran died in 1980. I then called the Washington Post photo department and offered them my material showing violent clashes between protesters and police. Although the paper had all their own staff photographers out on the streets, they ended up submitting more of my pictures to top editors for potential publication than those of any of their staff. A picture of a U.S. park policeman punching a demonstrator in the face got me my start at the Post and in the business.

I was lucky enough to be taken on by a succession of very experienced, talented and accomplished professional photographers who gave me excellent advice and assistance as I was starting out. I learnt a lot about news photography by looking closely at the work of these photographers and others that I admired, and then trying to emulate their style in my own work.

The U.S. invasion of Haiti in 1994 was the most intense assignment that I have ever been on, and it impacted me profoundly. I have never, either before or since, witnessed poverty or violence like I did during my five weeks in Haiti for that coverage.

The horror of the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center Towers in New York was also a story that had a real impact on me in the weeks that I spent covering it. That experience is one that deeply affected me and that I will never forget.

When I am shooting pictures, I am constantly thinking of how to convey what it is like to be at an event to viewers and readers in other parts of the world, who would never be able to experience the moment directly.

Learning to compose your images properly, being ready for key moments before they happen and then calmly capturing them when they do are the marks of the most accomplished news photographers. I feel humbled to have gotten to know some of the best people in the business at doing this, and lucky to have little bits of it rub off from watching and learning from them.

Behind the Scenes

New Hampshire, United States. Reuters/Brian Snyder
Jim Bourg edits photos of the U.S. presidential campaign behind a stage during a presidential campaign rally in New Hampshire, January, 2012.