Suzanne Plunkett

Suzanne Plunkett

Based
London, United Kingdom
Born
Fargo, United States
Status
Photographer
Camera
Canon 1DX
“I seek inspiration anywhere and everywhere. Any time I try too hard it eludes me. When I remain open, inspiration strikes.”

Beat

I cover a little of everything, including politics, sports and features. I love breaking news, sports – particularly tennis – and anything quirky or offbeat. My favourite thing is to work as a team with a writer on long-term projects.

One Shot

. LONDON, United Kingdom. REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett
Britain's Queen Elizabeth II leaves Buckingham Palace in a horse drawn carriage to attend the State Opening of Parliament, London.
“I like this picture of Queen Elizabeth. After waiting for hours in the rain, her expression, the lighting and the mood of the photo all came together in the split second that I had to shoot it as she passed by in her carriage.”

Profile

A photograph should tell a story, whether that is crystallising a situation in a single image or revealing the human lives caught up in the unfolding drama.

I received a Polaroid SX-70 when I was 11 and photographed my family, neighbourhood and my dog. However, another common theme evolved as I was frequently talked into shooting the top of my dad's head so he could chart the progress of his growing bald spot.

I worked on my university newspaper, which was touted as "Boston's third-largest daily newspaper." So I got tons of experience shooting in a competitive news market.

My favourite photographer was Robert Frank while I was in school and I studied and then copied his snapshot style when I first started out.

After university I answered an advertisement to shoot for a "Bike" magazine. In my naivete I thought it was a bicycle magazine. I quickly realised my mistake on my first assignment when I met my contact, who was named Lone Wolf, at a motorcycle rally and was asked how much experience I had shooting naked women holding large snakes on Harley Davidsons.

Covering the September 11 attacks on the World Trade Center completely changed the course of my career and broadened my horizons, galvanising my interest in stories outside the United States.

Ten years ago I was single, living in New York and had never worked in another country. Today, I have a family, live in London and have worked in Afghanistan, Pakistan, Indonesia, India, East Timor, Cambodia, Nigeria and across Europe.

Even if I weren’t a news photographer I don't think I would have ever had a typical nine-to-five job, but I know I would not have had as many varied opportunities to witness history in as many countries as I have, throughout my career.

I always enjoyed the competition that I felt from Reuters photographers when I was working for newspapers and other wire services. Now that I am part of the team, I am constantly challenged and inspired by my colleagues’ high standard of photography.

The first time I felt I could not capture the essence of a subject was when I photographed the Afghan national marching band shortly after the fall of the Taliban. The hastily-assembled, ragtag group of musicians were incredibly photogenic, but without hearing their eclectic music, there was a missing element to my story. Sometimes video or audio can supplement a photograph very effectively.

I seek inspiration anywhere and everywhere. Any time I try too hard it eludes me. When I remain open, inspiration strikes.

I favour natural moments which tell the story rather than relying solely on technical tricks to make a photograph.

At present, I am passionate about being a good mother and role model for my young daughter. Other adored pastimes include downhill skiing, trying to surf (emphasis on trying!) and reading.

I’ve learnt never to underestimate the amount of support you can get from colleagues. When the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami struck, I covered the disaster as well as directing a team of photographers in Indonesia. We saw death and destruction on a scale that shocked even those of us who had experience covering scenes of fatality. By turning to colleagues for emotional as well as professional support, my team and I came through this difficult story with the courage to keep on doing the job we love.

Behind the Scenes

. London, United Kingdom. Reuters/Lee Durant
Reuters photographer Suzanne Plunkett sets up a remote camera outside the hospital where Britain's Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge, gave birth to a boy on July 22, as she waits for Catherine and her husband Prince William to emerge with the royal baby.