Thomas Nicolon

Thomas Nicolon

Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of the Congo
Agen, France
“Photojournalism is not a hobby for the elite and the art galleries: it is a way to reach as many people as possible.”


Environmental issues, biodiversity and the growing conflict between humans and wildlife.

One Shot

. Mbandaka, Democratic Republic of Congo. Reuters/Thomas Nicolon
“This photo shows the reality of hunting. A dead monkey, in the middle of the forest, hung to a tree by hunters before being transported to the city. A few minutes earlier this monkey was alive.”


My earliest memory of photography is a beautiful coffee table book on the cultural representations of snakes throughout the world, called Snakes: images and rituals.

I wanted to become a photographer to raise awareness about the decline of biodiversity on our planet, and the importance of protecting wildlife. I learnt to photograph on my own, while asking professional photographers for advice.

My first assignment was on the protection of Grauer’s gorillas’ in Kahuzi-Biega National Park, in eastern DRC. I stayed in Kahuzi-Biega for a week, and it was a very enriching experience. For the first time ever I was on assignment, taking pictures for work. It was tough, too, to take thousands of pictures and keep only 15 for the final piece, but it was a great introduction to photojournalism.

The assignment that left the biggest mark on me was the bushmeat photo project, for which I was awarded a Reuters grant, I had to live in the forest with poachers for several days in order to photograph their work in an intimate setting.

What excites me the most is to go on assignment in very remote and unknown places. I like showing our planet’s last wildlife havens, while stressing how people’s future is closely intertwined with the animals’.

Photojournalism is important because it is one of the best ways to raise awareness on current affairs. All over the world people look at press photos on a daily basis and a good photo can say so much more than an in-depth article. Photos go straight to people’s hearts.

Photojournalism is not a hobby for the elite and the art galleries: it is a way to reach as many people as possible.

The past four years being a photojournalist in DRC have been one big lesson. It’s such a demanding country. Very rough, even dangerous at times. Working there has prepared me for working pretty much anywhere else on the planet.

To someone just starting out I would say work on topics that you’re passionate about. The rest will follow.

I respect photographers who don’t work on trendy topics just to get attention. I like people who are genuine and passionate about what they do, such as Brent Stirton or Eduardo Soteras.

Photojournalism is more important than ever. With the rise of social media, everyone is able to share pictures. Fake news is spreading, and people are aware of that: they’re trying hard to be careful about what they see and read on the internet. Good, professional photography is what will help people stay on the right track.