Nicky Woo

Nicky Woo

Based
Tanzania
Born
New York , USA
“Photojournalism is important because though it we can help amplify the voices of the disenfranchised”

Beat

Breaking news, healthcare, human interest stories.

One Shot

. Zanizbar City, Tanzania. Reuters/Nicky Woo
Nadra holds her eight-month-old child Muhammad Ali, in their living room.
“The child has an extended belly button from an umbilical hernia so a portion of his intestine is pushing through the muscles of his abdomen. The hernia can be cured by a simple surgical procedure, but with the high mortality rate at the hospital his parents refused the operation. Their home is bare except for the television and mother with child, yet you can feel the connection of the family. Young Muhammad staring off into the distance almost feels like someone wizened.”

Profile

One of my earliest memories of photography is seeing the incredible images from the civil rights movement era in the United States and empathizing with all those stoic faces at the lunch counters or walking into schools while insults were hurled at them and yet they persevered.

I wanted to become a photographer because I imagined that the thing that keeps us separate is not knowing or understanding what we all go through; I believe that images can help bridge that gap.

The assignment that's left the biggest mark on me was a 5-month grant project with Reuters. It was based in a community that shunned cameras. You have to gain people's trust and forge relationships so that they'll welcome you into their lives to tell their stories. Initially I had a really hard time because I worried that I maight take more than I was giving, and this feeling showed in the images. Luckily, my editor Gabrielle Fonseca Johnson was there to help guide me. She explained that I needed to sit with people, to spend time with them and to wait until they accepted me. To be a person first and then reintegrate the camera once both I and the people I was documenting felt comfortable. This really shifted how I work, as up until then I'd been shooting much shorter-term stories, so was only in communities for a week or two, max.

Photojournalism is important because though it we can help amplify the voices of the disenfranchised, and because cruelty ferments in the darkness.

When I take pictures I imagine that the work can serve as document. That my audience are neighbors who ignore the hardships around us. My hope is always that the more documentation people see, they wiser they will become or at least angrier so eventually their voices will combine to demand better.

My biggest lesson has been to keep pushing. That If I’m really interested in a project then I should go ahead and shoot it even if no outlet seems to be interested in the story because my love for the subject matter will translate in to the work and it will eventually speak for itself.

I’m head over heels for the photographer David Guttenfelder’s work. The lyrical simplicity of the images is so quiet, beautiful yet impactful.