By SnapSquad - June 15, 2020

Catching headlines and reporting news events, keeping up with social upheavals, is what photojournalists do. Those who specialise in sensitive coverage filled with violence such as ghetto zones, demonstrations, riots and even wars not only tell, in pictures, of the dramatic turns the human condition can take, but I reckon that most of them could write adrenalin-filled stories of their own dramatic experiences.


Sadly, with such terrible events, no-one is exempt from danger, from being injured even killed while wearing a “PRESS” armoured jacket. Since the dawn of times, there has always been a war somewhere as have natural catastrophes destroying communities but if we had to feature a particular Annus Horribilis, 2020 would be a top contender: wars (as always…), earth-quakes, cyclones or typhoons, volcanic eruptions, gigantic floods, unstoppable fires, social up-risings, just to mention a few and not last or least, the coronavirus aka COVID 19 and the American “black revolution”. 

Armed with only their camera photojournalists are always present amongst those who have lost everything, those who suffer, those who hope that pictures will spread awareness and empathy through the world and that the world will listen, react, help and change the course of their history for a better and fairer one. The purpose of this post, in all humility, it to pay tribute to the work of those reporters who risk their life by sharing with you the stories of a few (too few) brave photographers.

June 2020 – Yemen War

Nabil Hasan al-quaety was killed while driving his car in an attack by gunmen. He was an award-winning photojournalist (2016 UK Rory Peck) and AFP contributor. Sadly, he is but one of many Yemeni photographers to fall victim of a civil war that has been raging in their country since 2014. Ruply Agency reported his death as “a stark reminder of the dangers facing all journalists throughout the world for simply seeking to tell the truth and report on the horrors faced by millions of people.”

May 31st 2020 Minneapolis and other cities in the USA - Protests

Linda Tirado, a freelance photographer covering a protest over the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis was hit with a rubber bullet and left permanently blind in her left eye. Linda is also a news media activist and an author who has published her memoirs: Hand to Mouth: Living in Bootstrap America.                   

A few hours after leaving the hospital, she twitted that she would continue to work. Here is a message she posted on the 31st of May:

“I am permanently blind in my left eye, and the docs absolutely refuse to let me go back to work for they say six weeks. I’m definitely not allowed to be near smoke or gas.”

According to Linda Terado, during those demonstrations, several reporters were hit with rubber bullets (shot by the police) in the eyes and more in other parts of the body.

February 2020 – Syria War

During a Russian airstrike over Ma’arat al-Naasan on the 20th of February. Photographer Abdul Nasser Hamdan was killed while doing his job.

January 2020 – Philippines Volcano

Erupting volcanos in some parts of the Philippines are part and parcel of life. Photographer Ezra Acayan had already covered the Mount Mayon eruption in 2018 and he had a good idea on what to expect and how to prepare himself when he rushed from his Manilla home to cover the eruption of the Taal volcano last January; or did he?

Under zero visibility Acayan drove as close to the volcano as he could to meet stranded residents left with no food or water. Equipped with a gas mask to protect his lungs and eyes from burning ashes and a giant umbrella to shelter himself and his equipment from mud rain he later recalled how challenging and probably nerve breaking it was to wipe his lenses without ruining the glass. Acayan came back from the Taal with amazing heart wrenching pictures. His though umbrella did not survive the ordeal: “My umbrella is destroyed now, but I got the pictures.”

June 2020 – Still Going on. Covid 19 in Italy

Taking on reporting and shooting what happens during a pandemic is a completely new danger to photojournalists, a never before situation, where they must constantly be on their guards to anticipate something no-one has experienced before in in their lifetime, in order to protect themselves, respect guidelines and people’s pride and privacy while working. The challenge is to work, stay safe and not bring the virus back home to the family.

While Italy was being devastated by the coronavirus, Alex Majoli, photographer for Magnum was documenting the pandemic in Italy for Vanity Fair. Majoli usually covers wars and conflicts; this time he had to be constantly aware of an invisible danger that could placate him at any time if he failed to respect a draconian discipline. While morgues were overflowing, hospitals were submerged, Majoli kept going out to the streets but also the hospitals, recording unfathomable pain but also courage, resilience and solidarity. Of his surviving the assignment he recalls his constantly sanitizing hands and equipment, throwing away a lot of things rather than reusing them and doing that systematically.

Alex Majoli is only one of many photographers who have documented with courage the pandemic in their countries.

Be sure to check out our amazing photographers on our marketplace!

  • Share:

You Might Also Like