PROFILE

Daniel Etter

Two miners resting in a mineshaft, photographed by Daniel Etter on a Canon EOS R.
"Sorim Ciobanu (front) and another miner rest in a mine shaft in Lonea Mine, Petrila, Romania on 19 July 2018. The coal industry in the Jiu Valley in Romania has seen steady decline since the 90s. During its peak, there were 54,000 people working in and around the mines. Nowadays it is down to some 3,000. The valley's industry was dominated by mining with around 80% of the population directly or indirectly employed by the coal industry," says Daniel. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens at 1/80 sec, f/1.6, and ISO3200. © Daniel Etter

Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Etter is a multi-talented photojournalist whose hard-hitting images consistently appear in the world's most prestigious news publications.

Photography, journalism, and filmmaking; Daniel has many strings to his creative bow. His gritty but often heart-rending reportage images have appeared across a selection of the world's top-flight publications, including: The New York Times, Newsweek, Stern, Der Spiegel and Time.

"In 2001, I saw the documentary War Photographer about James Nachtwey," Daniel says. "It portrayed a romantic idea of the lonesome photographer who goes out into the world and tries to trigger positive change through photography. An almost impossible task. Being 20-years-old, I was deeply inspired by it and knew that I wanted to pursue the same career path."

Portrait of Canon Ambassador and photojournalist Daniel Etter.


Location: Girona, Spain and Berlin, Germany
Specialist areas: Reportage
Favourite Kit:
Canon EOS 5D Mark IV
Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

In 2008, Daniel graduated from the University of Bonn with a master's degree in political science, and a year later left the University of Munich with a diploma in journalism. Yet it is the camera, rather than the pen, that has become his main weapon of choice. "I love good photography, but I am not interested in the medium so much as the means in itself. I am fascinated by it as a vehicle to tell stories, go to places and experience history first-hand."

Daniel fully embarked on his career in photojournalism in 2010, first documenting social inequality in India, later conflict across the Middle East, and most recently the plight of migrants during the European refugee crisis. "For the past five years, I have been photographing undocumented migration towards the European Union. In 2015, it became a major issue in the international media."
Two boys play with slingshots in a photograph by Daniel Etter on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II
"Durse (left), 12, and Nunu, 6, play with slingshots at a coal miners' camp in the Jainitia Hills in the Indian state of Meghalaya. Durse works in the mines while his friend Nunu just lives there with his family. According to the NGO Impulse there are 70,000 children working under life-threatening conditions in the coal mines in the Jaintia Hills – the youngest are just seven years old," says Daniel. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM lens at 1/3200 sec, f/2.2 and ISO100. © Daniel Etter

Daniel admits that capturing the images, which were used by humanitarian organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch, as well as leading daily newspapers and weeklies all over the world, had a lasting effect on him.

"My image of an Iraqi refugee family arriving by rubber dinghy on the Greek island of Kos went viral. It triggered a wave of empathy that made many people donate towards NGOs that worked with refugees. Capturing that image had a huge impact on me. When I saw the raw emotions that morning on the beach in Kos and the love they showed towards each other, I was deeply moved. I started crying alongside them. The reaction it triggered in random strangers exacerbated this. I was so moved that I cried for three days again and again."

Daniel, along with a team of photographers working for The New York Times, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize and the John Faber Awards of the Overseas Press Club of America, for their collective dramatic and evocative images documenting the crisis. "Winning the Pulitzer Prize was definitely a turning point in my career. I don't think there is another award that carries so much gravitas," says Daniel. That said, he has amassed numerous titles from an impressive array of competitions including World Press Photo and POYi.

Pro-Sisi Protest in Cairo, photographed by Daniel Etter on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III
Pro-Sisi Protest in Cairo, Egypt on 25 January 2014. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens at 1/500 sec, f/5.6 and ISO100. © Daniel Etter

How do you prepare for a job?
"For me it is mostly research. As a photojournalist working in hostile environments, this is the most important part. Mostly it means talking to trustworthy contacts on the ground, figuring out logistics and understanding where the risks and possibilities are."

Do you shoot with an agenda?
"I try to shoot without an agenda and show as much as possible of what is in front of me. But of course, as a photojournalist you take the side of the powerless, the oppressed, and the voiceless."

How do you decide which parts of a scene to capture?
"I want to tell a story with my photography, so I'm always looking for visually striking sights that tell it."

What's your typical shooting methodology?
"I try to get as near to what's happening as much as possible. I shoot with a 35mm fixed lens because it creates a sense of being there in the photo, but this means I have to get really close in order to capture the action and emotion."

What is the most important attribute a photojournalist should possess, in your opinion?
"I think patience is the most important trait you can have. The ability to keep working on a story even though at times it might seem like it's going nowhere."

Twitter: @DanielEtterFoto
Instagram: @DanielEtter
Website: www.danieletter.com

A Moroccan migrant stands in front of police during a protest, photographed by Daniel Etter
"A Moroccan migrant stands in front of police from the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia during a protest demanding that the FYR Macedonian authorities open the borders for refugees and migrants not from Iraq, Syria and Afghanistan at the transit centre for refugees in Idomeni, Greece. Around 1,300 migrants, many from Iran and Pakistan, remain stranded here after FYR Macedonia barred refugees and migrants from countries other than Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria from entering," says Daniel. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM lens at 1/400 sec, f/4.5 and ISO1600. © Daniel Etter

One thing I know
Daniel Etter

"One of the most important lessons I could give to a new photojournalist would be to always be open and respectful towards the people you photograph. Furthermore, it's essential to develop an instinct as to when it is appropriate to stop taking pictures and move on. Another thing to remember is that despite the adventure and the excitement that comes with it, you have to understand that this is work. After a while it will become routine. Don't get me wrong, for me it is the most amazing job in the world, but you still have to pay your bills."

Daniel Etter's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Contents of photographer Daniel Etter's kitbag, including Canon EOS R, 5D Mark IV & lenses

Cameras

Canon EOS R

A pioneering full-frame mirrorless camera that sets new standards for photographers and filmmakers. Daniel says: "The EOS R has become my go-to camera. It's small, lightweight and solid. The electronic viewfinder has changed the way I photograph."

Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Made for those who demand the very highest standards in image quality, the EOS 5D Mark IV’s 30.4-megapixel sensor delivers images that are packed with detail, even in the brightest highlights and darkest shadows. "I have been using 5D cameras for the past nine years and they've never let me down. With the 35mm it offers the perfect combination of size, durability and flexibility," says Daniel.

Lenses

Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM

Professional L-series, f/1.2 aperture USM lens for low light and extreme depth of field control. "This seems to be the most natural lens to me, it has the focal length that most closely resembles the way we see," says Daniel.

Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM

A professional grade wide-angle lens with a natural perspective, an f/1.4 aperture and low light capabilities. "For years, this lens has been my main choice. With the slightly beaten-up one in the kitbag above I took my Pulitzer Prize-winning photo, so it carries emotional sentiment for me"

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM

Enjoy flexible, practical shooting and explore your world in close up with this incredibly versatile and lightweight 35mm f/1.8 macro lens with Hybrid IS. Daniel says: "This is my second lens to go natively with the Canon EOS R. I love it for its small size and its unobtrusive looks."

Accessories

EOS R Mount Adapter EF-EOS R

The Mount Adapter EF-EOS R allows EF-S and EF lenses to be used on EOS R cameras seamlessly. "In the rare cases I want to use an EF lens on my EOS R, this little adapter comes handy. It works seamlessly between the two systems."

Notebook

"I can fit this and spare batteries into my pockets, and that's it, I'm ready to go," says Daniel.

Memory card pouch

Daniel keeps his memory cards safe inside this red and grey pouch.

Lens pen

"I use this to clean lenses and cameras," says Daniel.

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