Photojournalist Jamal Taraqai is the first Pakistani to win a World Press Photo Award. In this interview with him, we reveal how he risked his life to capture his winning image of the aftermath of a suicide bomb attack at the Civil Hospital in Balochistan, Pakistan, and why he views that as just part of the job.
How does it feel to be the first World Press Photo winner from Pakistan?
“I feel proud. World Press Photo is doing a fantastic job of giving respect to photographers from all over the world and awarding the best work.”
What was your first reaction after the blast at the hospital?
“I wondered what I should do, whether I should leave the hospital for my own safety or not. It was not the first time I got caught in a blast – I have been injured in three different explosions. During this attack, I was worried that a second explosion would take place. I had two choices: to cover the event or to leave the hospital. My commitment to photojournalism compelled me to continue working. It was my responsibility to show what the innocent people caught in this blast were going through.”
What advice can you give to young photojournalists?
“Firstly, capture and show the reality to the world. Secondly, get a reliable camera to ensure you don’t miss what you’re trying to shoot.”
What are you working on next?
“My focus will be on working as a political cartoonist and photojournalist. When looking at a cartoon or a photograph, everyone – even a child – can understand what’s going on.”
What is your relationship with Canon equipment?
“For the last 12 years, I have been taking photos on the camera I used to capture this shot, and have achieved many things with it. I do, however, think it’s time to get a new lens and body to improve my work.”
Survivors and onlookers help those injured in a suicide bomb attack at the Civil Hospital in Quetta, Balochistan, Pakistan, 8 August, 2016. Taken on a Canon EOS 700D, the exposure was 1/512sec at f/13, ISO 800.
© Jamal Taraqai