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Essdras Suarez Interview

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I was recently privileged to run workshops at the International Photography Festival in Sharjah UAE where I met several of my heros - and made the acquaintance of two time Pulitzer prize and RFK award winning photo-journalist Essdras Suarez, who was running street photography workshops and focus groups.

Essdras has worked for many esteemed publications such as National Geographic Magazine and The Boston Globe, covered deeply distressing stories such as the Columbine massacre and Boston Bombings and yet he remains apparently untainted by his experiences, full of fun and a remarkably caring man. I had to interview him about how he got into photojournalism, his methods and approach to photography.

E Suarez 01

Boston Bombings Pulitzer Prize

Photojournalists work under extreme pressure as their editors demand for newsworthy stories is fast and insatiably. They don’t have the luxury of waiting for great light or time to edit raw files and this has an impact on how they assess a situation and shoot it. They are the masters of quick thinking. And, as I’m sure you know already, thinking is what I believe to be the most important thing in all of photography. Isn’t it time you learned how to think like a photographer? Instead of spending more money on the latest upgraded gadget, invest in yourself and upgrade how you use what you have.

It’s about using the right tool for the job, and that my be a phone because faffing about with a camera could lose you the shot as with this image which we discussed in the interview.  

E Suarez 02

Is it better to have lovely smooth pixels and no image? Or an interesting image with a few pixels? I speak to so many photographers who refuse to go above 400ISO, never mind use a phone over a camera. A high ISO is nothing to worry about. It’s just internet scare-mongering.

Can you imagine getting an image as powerfully laden with emotion as this RFK Award winning image of the grief of the family of 14 year old Osveli Sales who lost his life trying to enter the USA, if you were worrying about iso settings?

E Suarez 03

“I don’t even know what people are talking about when they mention such things.” Said Essdras.

Photojournalism is obviously not for everyone, but it is medium which plays a powerful role in conveying a story, bringing about awareness of the lives of others which we so easily pass over as we become more and more desensitised to those who live considerably harder lives than us. 

Telling stories through photos is something I’m deeply interested in and why I’ll never be a hardcore landscape photographer. I want to know about the people who live in the landscape, how they react to it and live within it.

Until next time...

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