Contemporary Issues, first prize singles – Jonathan Bachman

Contemporary Issues, first prize singles – Jonathan Bachman

Reuters photographer Jonathan Bachman was sent to Baton Rouge, Louisiana, USA, to cover protests over the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling, a black male gunned down at close range while being held to the ground by two white police officers. Here, he tells Canon how he was able to capture the precise second 27-year-old peaceful protester Iesha Evans was dramatically arrested by two policemen as she stood her ground.

How did you come to be in Baton Rouge?
“I was in Baton Rouge two days before this image was taken, covering the immediate reaction to Mr. Sterling’s death. I was told the New Black Panthers were planning to protest in front of the police station, which was a fairly large building and so I knew it could make for a good picture.”

What were your immediate feelings as you prepared to cover the protest?
“The protest was supposed to start at noon but when I arrived nobody was there. It was well over 100 degrees at that point so we had the idea it was going to be later in the afternoon. I went to the place where Mr. Sterling was killed – the Triple S store – and a lot of non-residents were at the site. It seemed like more of a militant vibe with protesters holding press conferences outside the store. I called Reuters and told them how I felt the mood was changing and when the press conferences had stopped I went back to the police headquarters, where we saw the New Black Panthers gearing up to protest.”

Why did you choose a wide angle of view for this image?
“I went for a wide view because of the limited time I had. By the first frame the officers were already three feet away from the protester, Iesha Evans. I heard someone warn her, turned around and saw her already being detained by the officers. It couldn’t have lasted more than ten to fifteen seconds. It was pure instinct that took over, allowing me to quickly compose the image. I only had one card on me too so I put my EOS-1D X on a lower drive setting to avoid filling the card in one burst and got as much as I could from the moment. I put all my trust into the EOS-1D X and my 16-35mm lens. I just knew that they would work.”

Did you know this frame was going to be special?
“I didn’t know until I got back to the car because it happened so fast. I took those frames and I knew that if they were sharp I would send them back to the picture desk. The sun was in my eyes but I knew that one of the red AF squares in the viewfinder was on her, so I hoped she would be sharp.”

Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X showing protester Iesha Evans confronting police over African American civil rights police brutality.

Iesha Evans (27) stands her ground at a rally against police violence against black men, outside the Baton Rouge Police Department in Louisiana, USA. Taken on a Canon EOS-1D X with an EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM lens at 16mm; the exposure was 1/1600sec at f/5, ISO 2000.
© Jonathan Bachman