Documentary Photography- Ian Berry


Portrait of photographer Ian BerryBIO

Born in Lancashire, UK in 1934, Ian Berry is an award winning Photojournalist for the Magnum Agency.

Berry taught himself photography after moving to South Africa in the 1950’s, and progressed to weddings and community photography work before moving to newspaper and freelance photography.

In March 1960 he covered a peaceful protest in Sharpeville, South Africa that turned to violence. As the only photographer to capture the events, his photographs were used as evidence in the following court proceedings and helped to secure the freedom of the innocent victims.

In 1962, while based in Paris, Berry was asked to join the Magnum Agency by Henri Cartier-Bresson and since then has worked as a global photojournalist.


“You can go out in the courtyard and play with light and shapes and make something interesting, but what for? For me there has to be both context and the moment.”


“The great single picture is emotionally satisfying, whereas getting a good journalistic story is more about being a professional.”


“…teaching me the issues of professional journalism. How if you go out and shoot a story, you’re not just looking for the one picture, but working around the subject, showing all the elements. There’s not necessarily a beginning and an end, that’s too simplistic, but there has to be development in the story and variations in the pace.”


“The whole point to me of 35 mm photography is to remain unobserved, working with available light, discovering pictures while a scene is in motion.”


“Photography is freedom in a way. It’s freedom to do what you want, it’s freedom to develop your own vision and it’s freedom to see the world and meet interesting people.”


The qualities of a good photojournalist?

“Henri Cartier-Bresson said ‘a good pair of boots!’

I think patience is kind of important- patience and quick reactions. You either see something in a second and you (take the photo) or you see a situation, maybe an incredible building, and you want somebody interesting in the foreground so you wait, and you wait, and you wait until there is a moment and then (click) a 1/100th of a second and it’s done.”




Gallery at Magnum Photos

2019 Leica feature

Desert Island darkroom



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