Interview with Joshua Paul | GBPW Episode 151

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A Hindu devotee showers as part of a cleansing ritual before proceeding for his pilgrimage during Thaipusam in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, January 17, 2014. Thaipusam which falls in the Tamil month of January and February is an annual procession by Hindu devotees seeking blessings, fulfilling vows and offering thanks and Thaipusam is celebrated in honor of Lord Murugan who represents virtue, youth and power to Hindus and is the destroyer of evil. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)
Joshua Paul.

What I really want to do right now is carve out a pathway on which the next person behind me could do better than what I’ve done.

Joshua Paul

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Portrait of Barack Obama by Joshua Paul
U.S. President Barack Obama waves upon arriving at Subang Airbase in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Friday, Nov. 20, 2015. Obama is traveling to Malaysia where he will join leaders from Southeast Asia to discuss trade and economic issues, and terrorism and disputes over the South China Sea. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

In this episode, I speak with photojournalist and director of photography Joshua Paul. Joshua is a talented storyteller who prioritises honesty and trust in his work. His clients include Forbes, BBC, and Netflix, just to name a few.

We talk about:

  • What photojournalists should keep in mind when taking photos
  • How Joshua connects with his subjects in difficult situations
  • How and why Joshua made a big career decision in his 30s

& much more!

As a whole, journalism is a diverse industry. It allows room for different forms of storytelling, including audio, video, the written word, and photography. If you’re curious about the reality of working in this industry and what it takes to be an outstanding photojournalist, you’ll enjoy listening to this episode!

Here is a preview of our conversation with Joshua Paul.

photojournalism work by Joshua Paul
Family members of passengers aboard a missing plane being consoled by a crisis counselor at a hotel in Putrjaya, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, March 9, 2014. Military radar indicates that the missing Boeing 777 jet of Malaysia Airlines may have turned back, Malaysia’s air force chief said Sunday as scores of ships and aircraft from across Asia resumed a hunt for the plane and its 239 passengers.

Q: What is the most helpful advice that your mentor gave you?

Joshua Paul: The most helpful advice I got from him was to be different. Do not photograph the obvious. When you’re a freelancer, you’re going against the bigger boys, all the major news outlets out there.

When I joined the Associated Press, my Asia Pacific chief photo editor – a brilliant photographer and a good manager – told me that journalism comes first, then your photographs. What my mentor told me a couple of years ago dawned on me: learn to write your essays, learn to write, learn to tell your story, and then your photos will make sense.

Malaysian ritual photo by Joshua Paul
An ethnic Chinese man throws joss papers to a paper-made statue of Chinese deity know as “Da Shi Ye,” or “Guardian God of Ghosts,” during the Ghost festival in Kajang, outside Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, Saturday, Aug. 13, 2016. The Ghost festival is celebrated during the seventh month of the Chinese lunar calendar, when prayers are offered to the dead and offerings of food and paper-made models of items such as televisions, refrigerators and sport cars are burnt to appease the wandering spirits. It is believed that the gates of hell are opened during the month and the dead ancestors return to visit their relatives. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

Q: How do you take photos in difficult situations?

Joshua Paul: We have to remember that we are all human beings. Whether you are the victim or the photographer, you are all human beings. When I approach a topic like that, I don’t carry my camera. I’ll just talk to them and approach them not as someone who wants to photograph them, but as a fellow human being, just being there listening to them.

documentary style photo of Thomas Bach by Joshua Paul
President of the International Olympic Committee (IOC) Thomas Bach speaks at a press conference after the 128th International Olympic Committee (IOC) session in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on Monday, Aug. 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Joshua Paul)

Q: As an independent photographer, how do you manage your time ?

Joshua Paul: I don’t have a fixed formula for it. I work 11 months in a year, and then I take a break at the end of the year for one month. Usually, I do it from January to November, that’s my working time. December is when I take time off, and then I come back to work in the middle of January.

I think I practice very vague time management where I set my mind to it. I do have short breaks in between where I definitely want to have some work-life balance.


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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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