Thaier Al-Sudani

Thaier Al-Sudani

Baghdad, Iraq
Baghdad, Iraq
“No photo is worth the life of the photographer.”


I cover war, humanitarian crises and politics.

One Shot

. BAGHDAD, Iraq. REUTERS/Thaier al-Sudani
An explosion is seen during a car bomb attack at a Shi'ite political organisation's rally in Baghdad.
“I was covering a political rally at a stadium. A suicide bomber walked in just as we were leaving and blew himself up. In the chaos of the aftermath a van raced across towards the football field despite everyone else running away from it and a humvee chased after it. Turns out there was a second suicide bomber in the van and he too blew himself up. I took cover and started taking photos of the explosion in real-time”


My father was a photojournalist and growing up I looked up to him, and he too wanted me to follow in his footsteps. He started teaching me how to use a camera when I was about 15 years old.

My first assignment was in October 2003, I was at home and I heard an explosion about one kilometre away so I picked up my Canon Power Shot A200 and rushed to the explosion site. There was smoke and destruction everywhere and I took pictures that I later sold to an international news agency.

One of my earliest memories as a photographer is looking at photos on display in an exhibition held at the Iraqi photography association were I used to work as an archivist. My father encouraged me to pick up photography myself and gave a Nikon FM2 to train on and develop my skills, now my dream of being a photojournalist has come true.

I was shot while covering an explosion of a roadside bomb in the middle of an American military patrol. When I got to the blast site another patrol showed up and opened fire. I was injured in my shoulder, a doctor standing next to me lost his hand whilst a 15-year-old lost his life. I identified myself as a journalist so they left me alone but they didn’t offer me medical assistance.

This incident deeply affected me and encouraged me to develop my journalistic skills in order to show the truth and capture it using my lens. I was determined to document the period of American presence in Iraq and preserve history.

I am always happy when I get to cover artistic, cultural and sporting events because they provide a much needed break from war and blood.

The most important lesson I have learned as a photojournalist is to report on what is happening with balance and to behave like a witness to history, observing important things through my lens and reporting on them.

I advise all photojournalists who are just starting out to start with the basics and try to be as objective as possible. I would also advise them not to rely on photo editing software. Finally I would tell them to be careful because no photo is worth the life of the photographer.