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Professional photo with a toy camera

Here is the last part of the interview with the photographer Balazs Gardi winner in the news category of The World Press Photo 2008. He answered the questions that our readers left for him in the post called «The Best Photo of World Press Photo»; in which our readers chose Mr. Gardi’s as the best of the lot.

The first three parts at: Interview with Balazs Gardi winner of the World Press Photo (I)

Here you have the last part and if you want to read the Spanish translation click here.

12) What shot, that you haven’t taken, would you like to take?by Marc

I’d like to take images that have impact regardless of what’s in the image. When I’m taking photos I’m rarely considering any kind of esthetics I’m more taking pictures for various other reasons, and one of those reasons and the most important one is that I like to change people’s minds. I like to show reality as I see [it] and I like share it with people. So, if people see my images, what I want from them is to start thinking and probably start thinking in new ways. And the images that I’d like to take in the future are images that are actually going to change people’s minds and open their eyes on issues that I think important.


13)I saw on your web site that you visited Spain recently, what did you like the most? And the least? Which city that you have visited is it the most photogenic?mitomano

I think in Spain what I liked the most was the people; and not to mention the food, I really like it. I myself have a Mexican girlfriend and I’m trying my best to learn Spanish. Then, do you speak Spanish? No, no, no, no, it’s very, very hard for me; my girlfriend is not a good teacher so I know very little and I wouldn’t be able to speak in Spanish, unfortunately. I was in Barcelona many times which I really like and the last time I was [in Spain], I was in Madrid; and I mean that I was working there photographing something outside of Madrid but what I really like about it is like I saw twenty museums when I was there especially the Thyssen. I really enjoyed their exhibition so I hope that’s the answer [the reader] was looking for.

Which is the most photogenic? Sometimes I think that Barcelona is very interesting photographically, and I felt really good in Madrid, I think Madrid is also a fantastic city. I think that some parts in Barcelona are probably a little bit more interesting for me personally as a photographer especially the disappearing parts of Barcelona, but I never really had the chance to photograph in Spain, it was more being a tourist there or just using Barcelona as a hub to travel. Anyway I’d really like to go to Spain one day to photograph.

14) When did you touch your first camera?by Estamos a la que salta

I was not really interested photography until I had to decide after high school what to do. So, basically when I was 18, I went to study photography. It was by accident; I didn’t want to be a photographer or anything. It’s just that it was an easy option to get away from the kind of office jobs which I really hated. So when I went to school, after becoming 18, was my first camera.


15) Hi, I’d like to know how you bought your first photography equipment.by Vero

I’d like to emphasize that photography really doesn’t depend on the equipment. I don’t believe that most expensive cameras take the best pictures. In fact, the latest camera I started to photograph with is a plastic toy camera and it cost 20 US$ and I take, I think the best images with that camera. So, I think, again, images are made in minds. You have to have the ability to catch those moments by taking the image, but I think it’s not about the equipment, it’s about you.

What I suggest for every photographer is to think about why they are [ taking photos of], what’s the meaning behind it, and what’s the reason they are doing it and really stop focusing on the latest and most expensive camera gear because that camera is not going to take the picture. Always you the photographer [are the one] who’s making the picture.


16) Balancing your profession with your personal live must be a bit complicated. Do you have a wife and children?by Pablo

I just said I have a girlfriend and sometimes it’s not easy for her; it’s not easy for me to [inaudible] She’s travelling a lot also, so we meet very frequently, like we spend at least ten days a month together and I try to keep it this way but she understands the nature of my job and I try to understand and appreciate her needs. So, I try to travel in a smarter way so I can do my job still but I can also spend some time with her. But, obviously if you ask the wife or girlfriend of a photographer, they don’t think it’s a good job. But I think it’s the best job on earth. So we should just try to keep the balance.

Do you agree with Balazs when he saids:

I don’t believe that most expensive cameras take the best pictures.

Pacted photos?

Here is the third part of the interview with the photographer Balazs Gardi winner in the news category of The World Press Photo 2008. He answered the questions that our readers left for him in the post called «The Best Photo of World Press Photo»; in which our readers chose Mr. Gardi’s as the best of the lot.

During the month of July, we’ll continue to publish the interview in different posts.

The first part at: Interview with Balazs Gardi winner of the World Press Photo (I)

Here you have the third part in which Balazs tells us about his photographic criteria, and if you want to read the Spanish translation click here.


8) I’d ask you if you’re not worried that such aesthetics distract the spectator’s attention from the issue you’re denouncing.

I hope esthetics are not going to distract the attention from the actual meaning of the image, I really hope the opposite.by Diana

I hope the esthetics actually can attract more attention to the image. Meaning that usually the images are getting out in news magazines and various other publications and it seems the world is changing and the esthetic of the images that we see on advertisements in magazines or on TV, they are rapidly changing.

So images that have to [grab] the people’s attraction are also competing visually with this kind of esthetics. So I think without esthetic images it’s really hard to draw attention [to] important images. So I hope that the esthetics of my images actually have more people to look at the images and start to understand them.

9) What photographic equipment do you take with you? What lenses?by lucas

Usually I try to minimize the equipment I’m working with so in this special case, and 90% of my job, I’m doing it with a Leica M6, it’s a rangefinder camera. So it’s very small, it ha a 35mm lens and I don’t carry any lenses. So most of the time I’m working with one body and one lens. That makes my life very easy because I don’t have to take [the specific] kind of camera and lenses I’m working with. But recently I started to work also in the panoramic format so I have an old panoramic camera and they don’t make it anymore, it’s called “Widelux”, it has one lens that’s a 26mm lens and it’s a panoramic camera so the lens is so [inaudible] and so it photographs 140 degrees. These are the two cameras I’m mostly carrying and, just in case, I carry one digital camera but I usually don’t photograph with it. So I still mostly photograph on film.

10) I have always been interested in the world of photography. I imagine these photos in colour… I’d ask you: Dou you like black and white or colour photos more? by doraimon

As I just said, sometimes I photograph in colours, it’s just to be a [inaudible] of colours.

I usually prefer black & white over colour. 99% I think that the black & white images are much more powerful than [colour] images basically, it’s just a personal preference, I think I can express myself much better in black & white images. But I also think that some photographers… I really enjoy looking at their colour images. Sometimes I really enjoy taking colour images but overall probably less than 5% of the images I like are in colour.


11) Some critics say that press photographers take such impacting photos that they must be paying the photo’s subjects. How true is that? And can one set up a photo under those circumstances?by mitomano

I’m generally totally against this. I know that some photographers might do that but I think it’s the worst thing you can do in jour job. I mean, in advertising photography it’s a very common thing to pay for the models; but [the kind of] photography I’m doing, it’s basically like documentary photography, so there’s no way I pay for images and there’s no way set up images, so I don’t tell people what to do, I am there to photograph what they’re doing. Having said that I understand that even the presence of a photographer can change the situation but I try to minimize my impact and I try to photograph what’s happening and I don’t try at all to photograph what’s not happening so I don’t imagine things and then try to set it up, I do the opposite. I go to places, I witness the events and I photograph what’s happening.

Do you think there are a lot of press photographers that pay for and set up their pictures?

Manipulation of information?

Interview with Balazs Gardi winner of the World Press Photo (II)

Here is the second part of the interview with the photographer Balazs Gardi winner in the news category of The World Press Photo 2008. He answered the questions that our readers left for him in the post called «The Best Photo of World Press Photo»; in which our readers chose Mr. Gardi’s as the best of the lot.

During the month of July, we’ll continue to publish the interview in different posts.

The first part at: Interview with Balazs Gardi winner of the World Press Photo (I)

Here you have the second part and if you want to read the Spanish translation click here.

13) What are you going to do with the money that you have earned with the award? by currele

Basically, the way I work actually is that, just because of the style I’m photographing and the way I’m working, usually I don’t take assignments; so, ya know, none of those images that you see actually being photographed was commissioned. So I went back to Afghanistan like four or five times last year and spent like half of the year in Afghanistan, but none of those works were actually paid. So, the way I’m working is

that I try to make money [some other way]. I photograph corporate jobs, which have nothing to do with documentaries, like in my photography. With the money I earn with my job actually I invest my money on these trips, so I can photograph something that is socially more important than the images I made the money on. So basically, the money I made on the images, regarding the awards, actually is going back into my pocket and this is the money that is financing my next trip. For example, next week (the 1st week of June) I’m trying to go to China and photograph the impact of the earthquake, but since no one is paying for that trip, I really hope that the check that I received from World Press for the Afghan work can over the cost of two or three weeks of work in China.


14) The winning photo was taken in Afghanistan, How did you get there? On your own? Through the army? I suppose you have and educated opinion about the situation that the people are living there. What differences are there with respect to what we see on TV? by Alicia

Well, I was going toAfghanistan on my own and to get into these regions where the US Army is fighting, you have to have permission from the US Army and you have to be embedded with the Army. That means, basically, you stay with the soldiers, you go with the soldiers; they take you anywhere and let you photograph what you want to photograph. That’s the situation I was photographing in. And the other part of the question, yes, I think it’s very different what you see on TV and the reality is most often very different. It has various reasons and the most [important reason] is that the press is a tool in the hands of politicians; the press is a tool in the hands of terrorists; the press is a tool of governments and the armies. So, basically, information is a very valuable thing and all these people want to control information because then they can control the people. So, by saying that I mean images and also words can be used for propaganda purposes and in a war there are plenty of interests from both sides. What is important for me and the reason I’m going there is because I don’t trust what I get from TV or radio I want to experience what it is and I want to see firsthand.

I’d like to tell in my images what I saw and my part of the truth. As I said, the mass media has very limited access to military operations and they have very limited access to countries such as Afghanistan, it’s mostly because the security situation is really bad so you can’t visit most of the places in the country on your own or independently.


And as soon as you’re not going somewhere independently you are already on one side and you start to photograph or write about one side if you are not careful. Most journalists, unfortunately, are not so careful and they take for granted what they were told, for example in the Army and the spokesman for the Taliban or the spokesman of the Karzai government, they all have their own versions of truth to tell you and I think that journalists and photographers have a very big responsibility to translate that and make sure that it’s a balanced and honest report. Most of the time, unfortunately; journalist are not always doing their best to translate this information in a factually correct way. So, sometimes, unfortunately, the reports from Afghanistan aren’t true. The fact in Afghanistan now is that half of the country is in serious war. You know, the east and the south are controlled by the Taliban. What the message is from the TV and NATO and from the existing Karzai government is that they are in charge of the whole country and they are in control and they try to minimize the power of the Taliban. But, in fact, if you just see the figures, the Taliban are really powerful, they control haf of the country and because of the mismanagement of partly NATO and partly the international community things are not going good in Afghanistan; things are actually going really bad in Afghanistan. What I expect is the situation is going to be worse everyday. I don’t see [a clear] solution for the country, that’s mostly because whoever I talk to from the government or from the military or from the civilian side, none of them have the solution.

They are working on something without foreseeing the future. And if you don’t know what you’d like to get if, you don’t know how you reach that, it’s really hard to finally get what you want.


15) A job like that must be full of life and anecdotes. Would you like to share with us one that you remember? by Alicia

I don’t know, I mean, just regarding Afghanistan, it’s such a fantastic country and it’s full of fantastic people. So the reason I keep going back to Afghanistan is because I feel so alive over there just because of the kindness of the people and basically I have endless stories, I don’t think I could share just one particular story.

What I really appreciate in my job is that everyday when I photograph people I meet with them and I hear a fantastic story everyday. I meet people and start knowing their lives and listening to their stories. And stories and meeting those people can actually give me the opportunity to understand them much better than if I were to understand them from television news and so that makes me think that if I photograph them knowing their stories, it’s going to give me a special perspective so some people looking at my images will understand [my subject’s] culture a little bit more.

Are you suprised by Balazs’ opinion on the manipulation carried out by the media, US Army, Taliban, and Karzai’s government about the situation in Afghanistan?

F. Perea

Interview with Balazs Gardi winner of the World Press Photo (I)

The photographer, Balazs Gardi , winner in the news category of The World Press Photo Photo 2008, answered the questions that our readers left for him in the post called «The Best Photo of World Press Photo»; in which our readers chose Mr. Gardi’s as the best of the lot.

During the month of July, we’re going to publish the interview in different posts.

Here you have the first part of the interview and if you want to read the Spanish translation click here.

1) Has your career ever put your life in danger? by Ana

Yes, my life was in danger and so [were the lives of the soldiers] in danger especially during the operation [in which] I photographed these images.

And, mostly it’s because the place, the Korengal Valley, [where] I photographed these images of, that’s one of the deadliest places, at least for US soldiers, in the world, including Iraq also. In this valley, which is like about 10 km long, probably the majority of the [gun] fighting in all of Afghanistan is happening. It’s a very notorious place. And so, the soldiers who are living in this valley, and the journalist who are going with these soldiers are basically constantly risking their life.


So, ya know, it comes in several ways. Basically this valley is full of insurgents. The Americans think they’re mostly foreign fighters, so it means Afghans but also other jihadis from various other countries; and they fight their own jihad against the Americans right now. They’ve fought their own war against the Russians before, so it’s not a new thing there. But basically they’re very valiant soldiers; it’s really, really hard to fight against them, especially because of the terrain and also because the local population is very protective towards them and hostile to Americans.

2) The lighting, the shadows, the positioning of the subjects…it almost seems a study. Gardi, do you have some tips to find the position and perfect framing? by Pepe Novoa

Not really, I mean the way I work is basically—I used to be a newspaper photographer. That basically means I was working for a newspaper and I was photographing different events for more than seven years and sometimes three or four events per day. They were not always great but I learned from those things; and I’m talking about politics, about sports, what I learned is how to frame an image really quickly, how to solve problems.

And all I can suggest is basically, you know, to practice and practice photography through taking images because then you can learn from your own mistakes.

But, when I’m photographing nowadays, ya know, these positions and compositions are coming instantly, so I don’t think about the compositions. I’m more, ya know, like thinking about why I’m photographing a certain situation and when I decide to photograph a moment I usually don’t think about composing it I just photograph it and the composition comes very naturally.


3) It’s interesting; the images show some complicity between photographer and subject, even going into their very houses, Is it complicated working in the conditions seen in the photos? How do you subjects react? by Juan

I think covering a conflict is always complicated, especially in this area where it’s really clear that the people of the area are supporting the enemy, and really dislike the soldiers I was with. So when you are with armed soldiers usually people have very little to say and they can’t really resist being visited by the soldiers or being photographed by the others. But I always try my best to have the best relationship with the people. The reason I’m there is not only because I want to show the soldiers; the main reason is because I want show how the people on the ground are actually dealing with the war. I’d like to show people what war really means for the people; so I always try to photograph them and it’s never easy, especially in really complicated situations, Like those images were taken after a U.S. rocket attack, people got killed in a village and wounded. It’s really, really hard to photograph there because the situation is so bad but I think that our duty is to report from these places and photograph and basically to show the viewers what’s happening.

4) Was the photo taken with a digital or traditional camera? Do you think digital photography, whether for good o for bad, affects the final result of photos?by Froggy

A traditional camera and I used film for that. I think that the medium of the picture is not really a case. I don’t think that it matters at all. Like, I mean, the world is going toward digital, that’s for sure, and it’s really hard to resist. The reason I’m still photographing with film is, basically, I still like film a little bit better. It doesn’t mean that the quality is better, actually sometimes the quality is less good, but I really like the magic that film has versus digital. But I think the main reason is not really that one; the reason is that with digital it’s really, really hard to keep the images safe, meaning that archiving with digital is very, very fragile. Images are non-existant unlike when you shoot traditionally you have the negative, you have the film; it’s something that physically exist. With digital it’s just data and those images only exits on DVDs and harddrives and they are really fragile. There isn’t a really secure way to archive these images and I think that the most of my images are important also historically so I’d like to keep them, and I’d like to be able to show these images any time in the future and negatives are actually proven already. If you keep them and treat them nicely you can have then. But, during these days, I started to photograph digitally in 1997, that was eleven years ago, and believe me I lost so much data so many images because of technical failures. Then, for me it just makes more sense to work in traditional ways still.

We’ll publish the second part of the interview next week.

Do you share the view with Balazs in the latter question about digital photography?

Here the second part: Interview with Balazs Gardi winner of the World Press Photo (II)