In 2002 Pep was selected to the World Press Photo Master Class with his work titled “Faith in Chaos” from Sierra Leone. That same year he was nominated one of the top 30 to watch by Photo District News Journal. Pep won the Kodak Young Photographer of the Year in Visa pour l'Image in Perpiñan in 2003. In 2004 the Luchetta Foundation in Trieste nominated Bonet the best press photographer of the year and he was also a finalist for the W.Eugene Smith Award for Humanitarian Photography, an award he won in 2005. In 2007 Bonet won the second prize in the World Press Photo in Sports for his work on the amputees’ football league in Sierra Leone. In 2009 Pep won again a second World Press Photo award for his work Forced Identity, where Pep portrayed the life’s of transsexuals in Honduras.
Many of my photographs represent the unbalanced world in which we live. I could be photographing advertising, but that is not my passion. I want to give voices to those who do not have it. This helps me understand the unbalanced world. While my photos many not change this world it provides me with a peace of mind that I have been able to see the world this way.
Strong photos come from living the experience and being able to capture the emotions.
Experience the Photo First
Behind every picture there is a story. What makes the story good is a great photo. A great photo comes from experiencing the moment.
To truly experience the moment, take a photo with fresh eyes. As a photographer you should look for a new approach, a new way to capture the image. If you read too much about an event or location when you photograph you may subconsciously be photographing someone else’s story. The best pictures will come from your experience with the situation.
I buy a plane ticket, maybe check the weather. I don’t like to research or know too much about what is going on. I want the photos to represent what I am feeling when I am there. Not a preconceived notion of what I read before going.
Just about every person has a camera these days. Many people can take snapshots but it takes hard work to capture great photos. Take lots of photos, digital cameras make it easy to
Impactful photos are created through knowing the technical aspects of your camera as well as be involved with what is happening in the photo. You have to be dedicated and motivated by what you are photographing to create the great photo. Have a passion for the subject matter.
Be committed, motivated, self-disciplined and have a clear objective. Focus on what you want to do and a have a vision of what you want.
Feelings & Emotions
The best photographers have personal views on the subject manner. You feel for your subject a lot, the subject matters. Be passionate about what you are photographing. The story will come through when you know the subject.
The less I know about what is going to be photographed the better. I need to feel every little emotion, experience it first hand, live it in the first person - - and only then can it be captured in a photograph.
Power of Suggestion
A photo should intrigue a viewer; leave something out for the viewer to interrupt. A viewer should be able to write their own story about the photo.
As a photographer who travels to countries in turmoil I have learned to work with different groups of people to get to where I need to be. While in Somalia I worked closely with the Doctors without Borders - I learned many things from them. I was able to see their perspective. But I also learned there are times when I needed to see other perspectives as well, at that time I moved on to meet others.
Locals can help you access the places you didn’t know you wanted to be in. Build relationships with people in the area you are photographing, they will show you the amazing places to capture that you may not find through research.
HIV-AIDS in sub-Saharan Africa: South Africa Color
Photography is about taking risks. Risks add to the uniqueness of the image, it helps keep it from being boring. Go to places where you may not be welcomed, if your heart is pure and you are honest with people you will come away with an amazing photo.
A recent risk I took involves the band Motorhead. I have always wanted to photograph them. After a little persuasion and photographing for free I was able to tour with them for two months across Europe. The next time they toured I was able to go with them – and be paid my expenses, hotels, flights, food etc…..! Believe in your dreams; take the risks to live them.
It’s all in a Word
When going on a photography journey it is helpful to have a theme in mind. A theme can be as simple as a single word– Faith. When I began my journey to create a series for the World Press Photo Master Class I went to Sierra Leone with a word “Faith” in the back of his mind. That is what I knew I wanted to photograph. The result was a series of photographs of the amputees’ football league.
My advice for those interested in pursuing photography:
Let people know what you are doing
Have a passion for what you are photographing
It’s not who you are, it’s not who you know – It is who knows you.
Pep Bonet is an award-winning photographer who has traveled the world capturing profound moments for assignments, clients and NGOs. Pep is an avid user of Kodak Professional Films, just another reason why we love him around here.