As journalists, we get access to some incredible things. We are constantly in the presence of powerful or influential people, and we get to document historic moments and change in the world.
Unfortunately, some of these moments come in the form of press conferences. And if you’re like us, you probably find these events pretty boring.
We wanted to highlight this image from photojournalist Phil Moore, who is constantly looking for different ways of shooting these kinds of events.
Last June, Moore was assigned to cover a press conference in Nairobi, Kenya where the British government announced it would make payments totaling £19.9 million in compensation to more than 5,000 elderly Kenyans who suffered torture and abuse during the Mau Mau uprising in the 1950s.
Moore was at the conference shooting on assignment for AFP. He knew he had to get the typical shots of the podium, but he also wanted to get something more powerful from the event. “It’s a shame not to take advantage of these opportunities,” says Moore. So he came up with this:
The solution was simple, but more effective than the standard conference shot. After getting the images he knew he was hired to shoot, he found a black backdrop with good lighting, and he pulled some 24 of the Mau-Mau-era veterans from the crowd and had them pose for a traditional portrait.
Aligning the portraits in a grid represents the significance of the event better than what most of the other photographers probably shot. He filed the image to AFP, along with the standard shots he knew they would also want. The grid image was published in Le Monde and Libération.
Compare Moore’s image grid to the image that The Guardian used for their version of the story:
Moore isn’t advocating for every photographer to do what he did, and he may not use the technique again. “I don’t want to use some style and get pigeonholed,” said Moore. But it’s important to try to make different images, even in a setting that seems impossibly boring.
In order to be successful, “you either have to stand out in some way or you have to be very good at getting access,” says Moore. “The industry is saturated with really good photographers.” Even when you’re shooting a press conference, it’s possible to stand out.