Rickey Rogers, the global editor for Reuters Pictures, said this mix was a result of using all of the resources at hand. Reuters has about 600 photographers either on staff or freelance around the world in any 12-month period, he said. For the Rohingya exodus, photographers weren’t recruited, but those who came forward and volunteered were considered for the assignment. It wasn’t a war zone, but the conditions were going to be dangerous and taxing on both body and mind.
“I don’t want to push people into hostile environments unless they are absolutely interested in doing it,” Rogers said. He added that all of Reuters’ photographers undergo two to five-day courses in hostile environment training.
The photographers assigned rotated in shifts, except Hossain who stayed in longer because he was based in Bangladesh. There was always at least one photographer on the story and most often two. The diversity of the group helped Reuters produce a richer photo report.
“We had a variety of photographers which meant we had a variety of styles and a variety of viewpoints,” Rogers said.
Asia Editor Masood knows the value of using photographers from the region. Masood himself had started out as a fixer in Afghanistan and rose through the ranks to a photographer and then as an editor for Reuters.
“Local photographers are vital to the overall success of any long-term story coverage. They have the local knowledge, they are the first ones on the story, can advise on safety, logistics and so many other necessary information that we need to run an operation,” Masood said.
Hossain, the first on the scene, had started in business school years ago but found that being in an office wasn’t for him.
“I always searched for something which allows me to explore different places and meet different people,” Hossain said. He refocused his schooling, got a scholarship for photography, and worked his way through various agencies before going on contract with Reuters.
Hossain knows the story of the Rohingya people, and it helped him during the first two weeks of the exodus. He had contacts that could tell him of new arrivals at different border crossings. Also, Rohingyas already living in Bangladesh had could contact others in Myanmar who could also confirm where groups were going to cross the border.