Famine, War, and Politics - Tom Stoddart, Photo Journalist

Kevin Landwer-Johan
Kevin Landwer-Johan

I had the pleasure of meeting photojournalist Tom Stoddart several years ago and the privilege of listening to him speak.

Before the event, I had read his bio. I was expecting a hard cynical man. He’d photographed so many wars, famines, and so much politics during his long career. I was wrong. The man I met and who walked us through an exceptional display of stunning images was a proper English gentleman. Softly spoken, polite and compassionate.

He’s one of the world’s foremost photojournalists who’s ‘seen it all’. What inspires me most about his work is the depth of feeling he captures.

The gathering where I heard him speak was attended by about 50 photographers. The first question during the Q&A time was, ‘What camera gear do you use?’ He’d talked about his work for over an hour and not once mentioned his equipment. His answer was the beginning of a change for me.

He used two Leica cameras and two prime lenses, and sometimes a flash. That’s all. I can remember thinking, if that’s all he used to capture so many stunning images, I am doing something wrong. At the time I was carrying far to much gear. Over the next while I sold my zooms and started photographing only with primes again. Mainly my 35mm f/1.4 and my 105mm f/2.8. 

Tom’s talk and the images he shared with us helped shape the way I think not only about equipment but my approach to photographing what I see.

Neale James has produced this video of Tom talking about his life’s passion and work.

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