Shamil Zhumatov

Shamil Zhumatov

Almaty, Kazakhstan
Almaty, Kazakhstan
“A successful assignment needs a lot of preparation before and very careful processing after. But it is still great fun.”


I cover a variety of breaking news and feature stories across Central Asia and around. I also sometimes edit stories from former Soviet countries.

One Shot

. Baghi Hisar, Afghanistan. REUTERS/Shamil Zhumatov
Afghans wait in a queue for U.N. humanitarian aid in the aftermath of an earthquake. Aid was laboriously loaded onto teams of donkeys and transported to this northern Afghan mountain village.
“I think this picture is all about the desperation of the Afghan people. This trip was a tough lesson for me.”


My earliest memory of photography is the magic of a black and white print appearing in a red-lighted darkroom. My earliest memory of press photography is the first picture I had published in a newspaper. I was 16.

I learnt photography by playing with a film camera that I got for my birthday. At first it was purely experimental home photography and photochemistry. Later, I wanted to take pictures outside my family’s world. I was always interested in photographing people.

When I was 15, I offered my prints to a local newspaper. They refused to publish them because of their poor quality. I was shocked! I wanted to improve and finally, a year later, I was published.

It is hard to remember my first assignment specifically. But I would have learnt that a press photographer's mission is not just “taking pictures and having fun.” A successful assignment needs a lot of preparation before and very careful processing after. But it is still great fun.

My first assignment in Afghanistan covering an earthquake in 1998 probably left the biggest mark on me. We arrived in a small village in northern Afghanistan and I had never had such rough experience before. I could have cried when I saw the conditions where I had to set up my darkroom to develop films.

From the day I started out, I’ve enjoyed photographing and communicating with people. I like assignments where I can get close to the subject of the story.

I always remember that my audience is very diverse. I hope to reach the smart people out there. Press photography is not just for entertainment, for example the fun of collecting “likes” on social networks. It is also an opportunity to understand other people’s lives and to stir up emotions about them, even if the feelings that they provoke are not always happy ones.

I’m very pleased to have met Joseph Budnevich, of the Soviet news agency TASS, and Robert Nickelsberg, of TIME magazine. At different times both of them helped me to improve my understanding of press photography.

Behind the Scenes

. Almaty, Kazakhstan
Shamil Zhumatov covers the Euro 2008 qualifying soccer match between Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan in Almaty, Kazakhstan.
Shamil Zhumatov covering the YARKOcross colour run race in Almaty, Kazakhstan.