Spencer Platt

I came to photojournalism from a desire to be a writer. Influenced by the literature of the Beat Generation and their off-kilter view of reality, I stumbled into photography as a vehicle to both interpret the world and to give myself a sense of greater purpose.

After some years at small regional newspapers, I travelled to Albania in the mid 1990’s to photograph the collapse of the economy after communism. The intensity of that situation and the feeling that I was bearing witness to history convinced me that my calling in life was news reportage.

Since those early days I have spent a career at Getty Images covering global and domestic breaking news. Conflicts in Congo, Afghanistan, Liberia, Iraq and other locations have given me a sense of the failures and triumphs of the human condition. I try to convey through images both the urgency of the moment and the universal theme of “a life worth living”.

While we live in a disordered world, I find photography the perfect medium to visually express the beauty of uncertainty. Whether I am walking down a New York street or covering rebel soldiers in Ukraine, I look for a moment that will stop the viewer, that will deepen their understanding of a story and their empathy for a subject.

Attendees of a workshop with me will focus on street photography and the importance of becoming a “flaneur” or “stroller of the street.” We will look at local news and issues and try to see how they might photographically work to comment on larger global events. I will talk to participants about how to look at stories for marketability and to shoot in a more intimate way while still keeping a sense of objectivity. I will also discuss equipment, deadlines, the importance of strong captions and the uses of social media. In short, I will stress how photojournalism is not simply the act of taking pictures, but a way of demanding more from life.