The Digital Journalist
The Same, But Different
January 2005

by Janis Pipars

I had the same idea in Kiev as all other photographers from abroad. I wanted to shoot Mr. Yuschenko cast his vote. When I arrived at the voting room one hour before the decisive moment, I saw crowd of photographers, cameramen and journalists already there. The view was really impressive because a few old Soviet-era women were able to push everyone to one side of the hall, to risers and desks, and they accepted this. I was like the last one there, and I saw some of the press corps sitting, their hi-end equipment nearby on the floor. It was funny to watch them nod off to sleep and wake themselves up, lest they miss the moment of Mr. Yuschenko's arrival.

When I arrived in to the voting hall I knew for sure that I would like to do my job more creatively and freely than AFP or other news agency photographers covering same event. I was interested in seeing things differently and I think I did. I pushed myself as close as possible to the wall near the voting boxes to avoid being crowded out by all the others. Official ladies always tried to move us but I was smarter than them and could disappear in the crowd.

Photo by Janis Pipars/ World Picture News
When Mr. Yuschenko appeared in to the hall I already knew what I wanted to get and how to complete it. I waited for the candidate until he appeared in front of the big group of journalists, to put his coupon into the voting box. I wanted to get the shot from behind, to see the crowd in to the room. I started to shoot him from behind but then I was forced to change my angle to see his face better. I ran across the room behind him as the other photographers were catching the moment and I felt really sorry to be in their shots, but what to do, I should have a great picture, too. I was in perfect position to get my frame but I still wanted to see his face better and I loudly asked him to look at me. He slowly turned himself and his kids in my direction and waited until I did everything in order. I was amazed how hard it is to get so-called "standard" pictures and how easily I got unusual pictures at the same event. And magazines like them.

Photo by Janis Pipars/ World Picture News
I was there by accident when I took the picture I like best. It was well known that Mr. Yuschenko made a public appearance on stage every day around 9 pm. I was on my way there, some 100 meters from the stage on the sidewalk when I recognized Mr.Yuschenko by the part of his hair. He was in the middle of crowd signing autographs for his supporters. In a few seconds I was there with my camera in one hand, trying to push some people aside with the other hand, to get closer. By accident I was lucky again; someone fell down and there in the crowd of supporters on the sidewalk appeared a free space for me. I got close to Mr.Yuschenko and I was able to shoot him from some one and half meter distance holding my camera overhead. And thanks to all this I got the frame that appeared in Time Magazine.

Photo by Janis Pipars/ World Picture News
I followed the crowd of supporters and their candidate to his office to continue shooting but when I got there it was too late. Nobody was allowed in. I was forced to stay on the steps for some time, waiting to catch Mr. Yuschenko. I was not so amused by that place and tried to push myself near an area of a waiting room behind the glass doors. A security guard grabbed me and pulled me in to the waiting room to the farthest wall and kept me there by holding my lens. He looked into my eyes and I understood without words that he was ready to smash my camera in one second. Some others security guys appeared and told to him to stop this and at same time Mr. Yuschenko appeared in the stairwell and I was free to shoot. I was lucky again with my camera and got a photo through the glass doors as Mr. Yuschenko flashed the victory sign. In other words, nobody gets this good luck for free. If I am right, Cartier-Bresson had an idea about luck: that if you are hard-working all the time you will be ready to receive the gift from Him as the best picture ever.

© Janis Pipars

Janis Pipars, based in Latvia for World Picture News, has been a professional photographer for 8 years.

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