I cover a wide spectrum of stories, the variety is a big part of why I’m a photographer. I can go from covering a head of state, to an anti-war demonstration to sitting courtside of a basketball game – all in a day’s work.
Images of the Vietnam War throughout the 1960s introduced me to photography. The raw and graphic imagery impacted me greatly as a young child. To this day, I consider the photojournalism from that war to be the most powerful ever produced.
I learnt to photograph by watching my father, who gave me my first SLR camera during my childhood in Indonesia. He and my grandfather were avid amateur photographers.
My first assignment was accompanying a conservationist into the Sumatran rainforest to wait for rare wildlife to wonder into our camera traps. The job taught me patience, discipline and the elaborate lengths that you must sometimes go to in order to get an image.
The assignment that left the biggest mark on me was documenting the story of two brothers who were facing the death penalty for murder. I was momentarily left alone while touring death row when I unexpectedly came face-to-face with one of them. No words were exchanged, but it was a haunting experience with a man who would be executed within the week.
Assignments involving transformation, such as regime change, are the most interesting to me. Out with the old, in with the unknown. I find this makes particularly compelling and challenging subject matter for a photojournalist.
As a news agency photographer, I am granted privileged access to document history. It’s a tremendous responsibility, which I take very seriously. I am true to my photographic style, and my primary objective is to accurately bear witness for people who cannot be present.
There has never been one all-defining moment that has taught me a big lesson as a photographer. I’ve always come away with something valuable simply by working with truly great mentors throughout my career.
My respect goes out to all photographers who conduct themselves with the utmost integrity and who consider themselves journalists first and foremost.