Vivek Prakash

Vivek Prakash

Based
Mumbai, India
Born
Madras, India
Status
Photographer
Camera
Canon 5D Mark II
“There is always something you don’t know about photography... You need to make mistakes and take knocks to become better at your job.”

Beat

I cover daily life, sports and features.

One Shot

. SINGAPORE, Singapore. REUTERS/Vivek Prakash
A guest swims in the infinity pool at the top of the Marina Bay Sands hotel towers in Singapore.
“I really like this image for its simplicity. Singapore was about to open a Casino resort for the first time in its history, and the building was a stunning architectural masterpiece complete with an infinity pool right on top. I painstakingly negotiated with the hotel to get up to the pool first thing in the morning, on the day of the opening. When I first arrived, there was no one there, but after waiting for a little while, a guest jumped in and started doing laps. I framed the picture and dropped the shutter just when his head was tilted towards me and his hand was out of the water – and that was it.”

Profile

My earliest memory of photography is seeing a picture on the front page of an Indian newspaper that I have never forgotten. I was very young, maybe nine or ten years old, and Rajiv Gandhi had been assassinated by a suicide bomber. I remember seeing a picture on the front pages of Indian newspapers that showed people fleeing in horror after the explosion. Although I’m not emotionally attached to that image, it is the earliest time I can think of that I really noticed a photograph. I’ve never forgotten it.

Although I learnt the basics of shooting and picture design at university, I learnt most of my skills in news and sports photography on the job. I was a rookie pictures editor in Singapore and then the staff photographer in Singapore from 2007. My first year or so in that job was full of mistakes of all kinds – not being in the right place at the right time, not being in the right position, messing up the exposure, framing things incorrectly, making a mess of using flash and focus – but I learnt quickly from my errors.

I was an extremely inexperienced pictures editor and aspiring news photographer when I joined Reuters in 2005. I was allowed to help cover an International Olympic Committee event and it was my first time shooting under pressure and having to produce pictures for the newswire. I was lucky to work under the guidance of some very experienced people, who taught me very quickly about the things I needed to do to shoot well.

Covering the “Red Shirt” riots in Bangkok in 2010 changed everything for me. One of my colleagues from Japan, Hiro Muramoto, was killed by a stray bullet while covering the story. That’s when everything became real for me – I’d been insulated from the fact that journalism is dangerous, sometimes fatal – and it can happen in a split second. The assignment taught me a lot, not just about how tough it is to work on such a story, but about the importance of safety above all else and how to deal with losing a friend and colleague.

Although I never set out to be a sports photographer, I’ve discovered that I’m very quick and sharp on the trigger. I’ve been lucky to have been given many opportunities to improve my skills as a sports shooter, and these are the assignments I look forward to most. I love the fact that you have to be fast, your pictures have to be sharp, and you’re often competing with highly experienced photographers who are very good at what they do.

There is always something you don’t know about photography. And there’s a lot you don’t know when you come into the news pictures business. You need to make mistakes and take knocks to become better at your job.

I deeply respect photographers who can spend a long time dedicated to just one subject to create long, illuminating bodies of work. I respect Martin Parr because he holds a mirror up to crass consumption and first-world excesses, and his pictures always make me laugh. And I respect people like Eugene Richards, for his incredible, personal portrayal of serious issues like drug addiction.

Behind the Scenes

. India. Vivek Prakash
Vivek Prakash holds a boatman's statue of the Hindu elephant god Ganesh as he sits on a rented fishing boat on his way to cover the annual Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Mumbai.
. YOKOHAMA, Japan
Prakash stands in the press gallery while shooting pictures of a meeting of heads of state during an Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation conference in Yokohama.