Nicole Neri

Nicole Neri

Arizona, United States
Arizona, United States
“My favorites assignments are those that allow me to spend time with people in their natural environments, so that they forget I'm there.”


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One Shot

. Tucson, United States. Reuters/Nicole Neri
A young migrant plays with a soccer ball in a Tucson motel where he is staying.
“I liked the light here, with the boy framed in the shadows. More importantly, while covering migrant shelters I noticed that even when these children had been through difficult and exhausting circumstances, they would play, by themselves and with each other, all the time. I felt that showed a lot of resilience.”


I was five years old in Disney World, my parents gave me a single-use film camera. I spent the whole roll on the plants next to the hotel walkway and a seagull on a post.

I was about 13 when I started using a point-and-shoot that my sister handed down to me, photographing plants and wildlife in the desert and putting a jeweler's loupe up to the lens for macro photography. I got my first DSLR given to me by a photographer in my area who liked what I was doing with that. I'm also studying journalism at Arizona State University.

I'm curious by nature and photography gives an opportunity to observe how things and people work while at the same time looking for beauty. I get to look at things for a living.

My first assignment was shooting a sidewalk that needed repairs for my high school newspaper. I realised that compositional lessons I'd learned while photographing nature could translate seamlessly into what the newspaper needed.

Covering overflow shelters for Central American asylum-seekers has left the biggest mark on me so far. Seeing people vulnerable and afraid was very sobering and impacted me a lot. I thought it was going to be a more hopeful story than it ended up feeling to me.

I'm still at a point where I'm excited by any assignment. My favorites are ones that will allow me to spend a long enough time with people in their natural environments that they'll forget I'm there. When people get comfortable enough with me that they're not constantly aware of me, I get to just be an observer and I learn a lot.

I think photojournalism triggers empathy. It makes issues and the people affected by them more real, and more difficult to dismiss.

I don't think much about the audience, I focus on what I'm seeing in front of me. I hope that if I'm showing peoples' experiences accurately, the audience will follow.

Make it clear that you're going to make an effort not to push peoples' comfort levels. You'll end up being granted a lot more access to situations if people trust that you'll respect their boundaries.

I think photojournalism will become the medium of choice for readers. Videos have to go at the video's pace and need the viewer's constant attention, writing has to go at the reader's reading pace and doesn't translate as quickly as a visual, but a reader can choose to scan or take their time on a still image. It demands only as much attention as a reader wants to give it.

I am 20 years old now, and still in school. I'm confident that my formative experiences as a photographer are still ahead of me. I've just started. I'm sure all of these answers would be different in a year or two, and different again a year or two after that.