Photojournalist Jerome Delay
Interview: Nezih Tavlas / June 23, 2021
“I’m a photojournalist recording what I see with passion, empathy, truth and respect”
(Courtesy of Jerome Delay)
Photojournalism News: What drew you to photojournalism?
Jerome Delay: It has been so long I am not sure I remember how it all started!! I guess from a book my dad gave me as a teenager engaged in the local high school photo club, celebrating the 10 years of the Gamma agency. It looked like there were only 10 photographers working at Gamma.. I told my dad “I will be the 11th!” And Then I made a life in the wires!
Photojournalism News: What equipment do you use? Do you have a favourite lens/camera?
Jerome Delay: I used to look like a Christmas tree carrying 3 or 4 bodies and even more lenses when I started.. Since then, I’ve learned to spare my back.. for many years my kit of choice was a 5D mk1 with a 50mm 1.8. Keeping up with technology, I now travel with my trusted Sony 7R3 with two prime Zeiss lenses, a 35 and a 50. I do keep a 70/200 close by just in case. And the Iphone12 can be a good backup..
Photojournalism News: What social media platforms do you use?
Jerome Delay: I use Instagram for personal experiments. Mostly BW images dealing with cycling and airports…. Facebook to keep track of friends and let editors know what I am up too, and Twitter mostly to retweet AP news stories.
Photojournalism News: How do you prepare yourself before any assignment? What would you put in your camera bag for a typical task?
Jerome Delay: As many of my colleagues, I try as much as I can to have only carry on. Which works well except when I take my bicycle along! Always a diner jacket, a tie and shoe polish. Who knows you might get an upgrade in the plane, more so it is a show or respect when meeting diplomats and dignitaries on assignment (yes, even in war zones…)
Photojournalism News: How would you best describe your style of work? What are you trying to say with your photography?
Jerome Delay: I am not trying to say anything, as much as I am trying to show something. We are very privileged to witness and record history, and must do so properly.
Photojournalism News: How many photos do you take for one story?
Jerome Delay: Having shlepped darkrooms and chemicals on every assignment from a Reagan trip to the siege of Sarajevo in my early days, and having had to carry and process rolls after rolls of film, I am a very conservative shooter. Single frame is the rule, and I believe that overshooting slows down your workflow and your editing process. Save the Pixels! So yes on a regular day out in the fields I might come back with 100 pix max. I don’t believe in overshooting, overfilling. Good images get lost…
Photojournalism News: What is the last trip you made?
Jerome Delay: Last trip was to Niger and Mali, doing an Embed with the French military involved in the Barkhane operation. Though access was limited, timing worked very well as on my last day there French President Emmanuel Macron decided to put an end to Barkhane!
Photojournalism News: What projects will you be working on next?
Jerome Delay: We are currently working on a team year-long series on how the COVID-19 pandemic is impacting women in Africa, with the help of a grant from the European Journalism Center.
Photojournalism News: Which of your photographs would you describe as your favourite? What makes them so special to you?
Jerome Delay: To fall into the cliché, I still haven’t taken my favorite photo.. There are none of my pictures on ma walls. Instead, incredible photography by Bruno Stephens, Alexandra Boulat, Stanley Green, Jim Natchwey, Joao Silva to name a few..
Photojournalism News: What message do you want your photos to convey?
Jerome Delay: I am a photojournalist recording what I see with passion, empathy, truth and respect. I think we all have an invisible watermark in our photographs that allow some people to recognize your images.
(Courtesy of Jerome Delay)
Photojournalism News: What does a photo need to be a great in your eyes?
Jerome Delay: It needs to generate an emotion, it being laughter, anger, sadness, outrage, reflective of what the photographer felt when the shutter was pressed. Plus, all the basics: light, composition and content.
Photojournalism News: In the digital age people consume billions of photos every single day, under the circumstances what could make a photo memorable?
Jerome Delay: All the above…. This shows there is an appetite for visuals. And yet, within this onslaught on images, every day, some incredible story telling sees the light..
Photojournalism News: What motivates you to continue taking pictures and what do you do to keep motivated?
Jerome Delay: That privilege of recording history, of giving a voice, of being a small link in the massive information chain that keeps people properly informed..
Photojournalism News: What was the biggest professional risk you have taken and what was the outcome?
Jerome Delay: Giving Interviews!!!
Photojournalism News: What would be your dream assignment?
Jerome Delay: Being the first photojournalist to travel to the international space station and properly document it, as well as staring at the curve or the earth.
Photojournalism News: What are the essential skills/ qualities a photojournalist should have?
Jerome Delay: Being curious of the world around you is the main skill.. having an eye doesn’t hurt neither.. and foremost having a passion for people, all people.
Photojournalism News: What do you think about the digital manipulation of images?
Jerome Delay: The best thing about digital manipulation is it will get you fired. Rightfully so.
Photojournalism News: What does it mean to be an ethical photojournalist?
Jerome Delay: Do not interfere, do not tell people what to do unless you shoot a portrait in a controlled situation, do not take sides, show things the way they are, not the way you want them to be..
Photojournalism News: How do you see the role of photojournalism evolving in the world? Do you think photojournalism is losing its importance?
Jerome Delay: To the contrary. In the age of fast live social media and 24h newscasts, we are more important than ever. Photos stop time and make you think. And we are messengers that can be trusted. That is why some people would rather see us dead..
Photojournalism News: Do you have any advice for aspiring photojournalists?
Jerome Delay: Live your passion. But first make sure it is a passion… and don’t hesitate to reach out to the rest of us!
Jerome Delay is AP’s chief photographer for Africa, based in Johannesburg. After working as an AP stringer in Denver, Colorado and as a staff photographer for Agence France-Presse (AFP) in Washington, DC, Delay has been on staff with the AP in a variety of roles: chief photographer in Jerusalem, staff photographer and international photo editor in Paris and international photographer based in London and in Paris. He has covered the White House, the Calgary Winter Olympics and World Cup soccer, as well as conflicts all over the world: the Middle East (Israel, Palestine, South Lebanon, Iraq), Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, Rwanda, the Congo), the Balkans (Bosnia, Kosovo, Albania, Macedonia, Serbia), Northern Ireland, Haiti, Kashmir and Afghanistan.