100 pics 10 months 1 life

Pretoria, South Africa March 1999 © Jørn Stjerneklar



Portraits. This is something all photographers have to do sometime during their career. It is a demanding part of the job. Everybody who owns a camera has taken portraits. Family, friends, pets, have been subjects in front of everybody's lens. So all of us has an idea of what makes a good portrait. In the beginning of my life as a photographer I did a lot of "family" portraits. I did not like to move people around to get a better shot, I did not like to add anything to the pictures. Well, I have learned to do whatever it takes to get a special portrait of people. Working with lights, props etc. It is the only field within press photography you can actually add or move things, people etc. around and still be within the limits of my profession.
But I still don't like it. What I prefer is to shoot people in situations where they are at ease. Though I do like the possibility to add, move, remove objects, I seldom use that possibility.

I love my profession. It has given me a chance to meet countless of interesting people. Not only presidents, royalty, actors, auhtors, etc. but most of all ordinary human beings whom had stories to tell.
Of course there are highlights like this man. Nelson Mandela is absolutely on the top of my list. Twice I have had the honour to be up close in a small room with him.
This picture is from I met him last time. He wanted to say goodbye to the Scandinavian press before he stepped down as President in 1999. We were 25-30 journalists, photographers, cameramen, seeing him off at his official residence, Tuinhuis, in Pretoria. I would never even consider to ask a man as Madiba to move around for my photograph. And his eyes could not stand flash, so this is shot with ambient light, him sitting at a table. Thinking before answering a question. A great thing to do which all politicians, presidents and people in general should do. Think before talking.


No.32