Mark Makela

Mark Makela

Philadelphia, United States
Monterey, United States
“I have been reared to appreciate and cherish photographs.”


I cover a wide array of news and documentary projects, both domestically and internationally.

One Shot

. Wise, United States. REUTERS/Mark Makela
Joe Roberts waits to have his teeth extracted at the Remote Area Medical clinic in Wise, Virginia.
“In July 2012 I did a story on Remote Area Medical, a crusading organisation based in Appalachia. It provides free medical, dental and veterinary care around the world, helping to address the health troubles of those who don’t have insurance. I met one suffering man who was going to have 10 teeth extracted. He waited in line all night for the opportunity for free dental care. I won his trust and he permitted me to photograph a close-up of his ailing teeth.”


My grandfather and mother are keen photography enthusiasts and family photo albums were (and still are) a big deal. I have been reared to appreciate and cherish photographs.

One photo essay that has stayed with me indelibly since my youth is William Albert Allard’s exquisite National Geographic cover story on minor league baseball: ‘A Season in the Minors’ from 1991.

I studied painting and literature in college, but I slowly taught myself photography while spending two years living in Japan.

In high school I was an absolute darkroom disaster. If it weren’t for the advent of digital photography, my discovery of photojournalism as a true passion would have been a far more arduous and unlikely path.

I enrolled in a tremendous Master’s course in photojournalism at the London College of Communication, which was an ideal springboard for my career.

In the lead up to the 2004 election, I photographed protestors against George W. Bush at the University of Pennsylvania campus. They had erected a humorous effigy of W. on a float and my picture of it landed the front page of the school newspaper, “The Daily Pennsylvanian”. Shooting for the paper was an enriching and vital experience for my development as a photographer.

For the end of my Master’s course in photojournalism, I spent two months in Arctic Finland documenting the culture of Sami reindeer herders, who have lived off the land with reindeer since time immemorial. They are the oldest indigenous group in Europe. It’s a fascinating and very difficult way of life. I found them to be a warm-hearted people, who venerate nature and take nothing for granted.

A myriad of stories excite me; I have very eclectic tastes. The privilege of being a photojournalist is that it’s different every day! The chance to tackle wildly different topics and to be given access to people’s lives while doing so is extraordinary and endlessly inspiring.

As a photojournalist you aspire to take the best possible photo you can, depending on the situation, and you hope that it reflects what you have observed.

So much of photojournalism entails perseverance, preparedness and chance. These three quotes really ring true to me. Winston Churchill: “never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty, never give in.” Louis Pasteur: “Chance favours the prepared of mind”. And Emile Gaboriau (repeated by Winslow Homer): “Oh, what a friend chance can be when it chooses!”

Behind the Scenes

. Sea Bright, United States. Mark Makela
Reuters Photographer Mark Makela documents a construction crew beginning to dissemble a seaside motel in Sea Bright, New Jersey, in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.