I am the Reuters chief photographer in Poland and I cover the news here. As a roving photographer I have also shot conflicts in Israel, Iraq, Afghanistan, Chechnya, Haiti, Macedonia and former Soviet Republics and have travelled to cover the soccer World Cup and Olympic Games in several cities around the world.
When I was a child growing up in Poland, my mother worked as a photo editor at the state-controlled Central Photographic Agency. Over the years I met Pulitzer Prize-winning German photojournalist Horst Fass and Charlie McCarthy, who brokered the deal for Reuters to buy its picture service.
In 1981 I defected to the United Kingdom and then to Canada where I studied photography for two years at the University of Ottawa. After that I freelanced for a number of local newspapers in Canada such as The Sunday Herald, Ottawa Citizen and Montreal Gazette.
On November 9, 1989 Polish trade union leader and dissident Lech Walesa came to Montreal and I was assigned by the Montreal Gazette to photograph his arrival. But because I was the only Polish-speaking journalist at the airport, I ended up asking him questions about the fast-changing political situation in eastern Europe and I didn’t get any shots to give to the paper. I was not upset by that fact though. On the contrary, the same day the first piece of the Berlin Wall came down and the next day I bought a ticket for Germany. Following that, photographer Horst Fass offered me a job in Lithuania and I never looked back.
I joined Reuters in Moscow on the first day of the coup on August 19, 1991 and my first picture was published on the front page of the Herald Tribune. Since then, I’ve been posted to many different places including Johannesburg, Nairobi and Sarajevo, where the late journalist Kurt Schork and I were jointly nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for our coverage of the last Sarajevo massacre. I have huge respect for Schork, who died in Sierra Leone on May 24, 2000.
Besides the Sarajevo massacre, there have been lots of other assignments that have left a big mark on me – it is difficult to pinpoint exactly which one had the greatest impact. During my career, I have witnessed the fall of the Berlin Wall, the collapse of the Soviet Union, and I have met former South African President Nelson Mandela on a few occasions. I was there to take pictures of him when he took the oath of presidency in 1994. There have been many moments and many memories…
What excites me the most are assignments about people or events that have really changed the world.