Freelance Photojournalist

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From the Editors: Interview with Magnus Persson who is freelance photographer covering news in Sweden / Denmark and also working on personal reportage. The emphasis of his work is mostly focused on social, political and humanitarian issues affecting different communities, like much else, forgotten by the mainstream media.

In your own words please tell us what you do

I'm calling my self a 'Part-time freelance photographer', since I have a full-time job that pays my bills. This way I believe that I have more freedom to choose what I want to do with my photography. Most of the time it's news and documentary with focus on society's issues and light conflicts, but I also have some long-term projects going on.

You have been described as a "documentary photographer", can you expand on what this means to you?

I think of myself as a chronicler of sorts, my role as a photographer is merely to share what I see, and bring it to a wider audience. I, by no way, wish to influence my audience with what I notice but I almost always want to tickle their imagination a bit. Using photography as a tool, I want to pose a question, wishing them to stop and think for a while and it all goes beyond thinking about what "we" have and what "they" don't but look at a larger picture and the issues.  

So does that mean that you get to go where the action is?

Unfortunately not... I try to travel around as much as I can, but it's my finances, and if I can get time off from my full-time job, which controls much.

What thoughts most commonly run through your mind when you're about to take a shot?

I don't think so much when I shoot. The camera becomes like a filter between me and the object. But it also depends a lot on what I shoot. At demonstrations I think a lot of what is happening around me, dangers that can emerge as flying bottles, cobblestones, bicycles, etc. Then, just want to just take their pictures as quickly as possible. Sometimes thoughts come when I come home, If it is more sensitive things that I shoot.

What is the worst situation you've been in?

This was probably when there were shootings on the street where I live, drive-by shooting with automatic weapons. After the first 3-4 shots, I stood on the balcony to see what is happening. A shot takes in the wall in front of me and I get mortar on me. I throw myself down on the floor, moving my family to the other side of the house, away from the shootings. Then I did something that no normal person would have done.. grabed my camera and ran down the street.

What have you learned about yourself while doing this work? What do you think it takes to be a great documentary photographer? 

You are capable of more than you think. Go for it. Don't sit at home thinking 'what'. Get up, get out and get it done. As a documentary photographer you should be interested in people, get close and personal if it's possible. Dare do discover new things and have the courage to walk in that dark black alley instead of the bright boulevard, but also have a good eye for the image.

Three most important qualities that a photojournalist needs to succeed? 

It's extremely important for a photographer to be committed to what one wants to shoot. It's however more important to respect the surroundings / culture where one is shooting. Patience is a virtue, and is an asset to have as a documentary photographer.

How do you find the stories you work on? What are your first steps when beginning to work on a new project? How do you gain trust and access?

Since it's most news and documentary pictures, I do a lot of demonstrations and such things around Sweden and in Denmark.
I work my way forward with information from the police,news media and different social networks. For demonstrations it's a great idea to be on site early and have a good look around the area, talk to the police etc.
Always on these demonstrations where the police is involved, I use my PRESS ID from Camerapixo, and it has worked great in Sweden, Denmark and Thailand. For documentary work, I do a lot of research, via the internet and talking with people.

How do you promote your work, and is it important part of your photography?

I'm bad at to promote myself, but I have a web page. I also use Twitter and Instagram. My news pictures goes through a photo agency that I am connected to, NurPhoto Photography Agency in Italy, but also through direct contact with news editors. If it's an important part of my photography? Both yes and no... Because it does not generate my income, it is not always so important. But it's always fun to get noticed and might get credit for what I do.

If you were not able to do the things you do, what would do instead?

Fortunately, I have a wonderful family that supports me 100% and pushes me to do what I love. But otherwise everything had been as it is now, working in the factory where I work full-time.

Thank you Magnus for taking the time to do this interview.
We are happy to welcome you on board among other photographers.
Your photography is very valuable in this community and very beneficial for our readers.

Camerapixo Team

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