Kiran Ridley

2020 Professional Press Photographer Of the Year

Q: Tell us a little bit about your background!

I am photojournalist currently based in Paris, working around the world covering news and socio-political stories.

Q: When was the moment you realized you wanted to pursue photography professionally?

When I was around 16. I was studying photography at High School as well as three other subjects in order to have one arts-based qualification in order to read Art History at University. From the start I really enjoyed it and became increasingly drawn to the creativity of photography and was inspired reading about the early photojournalists and pioneer documentary photographers and the work they did and was captivated by the idea of bearing witness to history. So, very shortly after picking up a camera, the Art History went out the window and I knew I wanted a career in photography, specifically photojournalism.

Q: Who or what do you turn to when you are having trouble getting inspired?

It’s not so much a matter of inspiration but I think is important to have people you can talk to and share ideas. I have some good friends in the industry, and a great mentor but mostly in all honesty it’s my partner and wife – who somehow manages to put up with me!

Q: You are a storyteller and that means that you have to reflect events you witness, however painful they may be to watch. What was the hardest moment for you in your photography career?

It is always very difficult to see people in worse situations than you. I think photographing the refugee crisis in European has been the hardest. People who are the same as you, have the same hopes and fears, love their children and who just want to provide a safe place to live somewhere safe, not such a big ask is it? They all have amazing stories and unbelievable hardship and it makes me wonder how they manage to cope. I always feel my heart get heavy, we should be doing so much more to help these people.

Q: Your winning work, “Pro Democracy Demonstrations, Hong Kong: The Revolution of Our Time,” shows us up close the Hong Kong demonstrations – did you get into dangerous situations during the making of this photography series?

Yes. It was certainly tricky at times, but that’s part of the course! As a journalist you are committed to document what happens in front of you. At times the clashes between police and protestors were particularly violent, but you just need to be vigilant and aware. The siege of Poly U (Hong Kong Polytechnic University) was something that stands out, some incredible moments there.

Q: How did you get into this particular genre of photography?

Early on I was captivated by the idea of documenting history and bearing witness to history in the making. That lead to me studying a degree in Documentary Photography and from there going directly to getting a job working for the National Newspapers. I am still fascinated and drawn to the idea of documenting history as is happens.

Q: What was the one, most memorable moment for you in your work that brought you hope?

Without doubt June 16th 2019. It was the second consecutive Sunday of the demonstrations against the Extradition Bill in Hong Kong. An estimated two million people took to the streets of Hong Kong in protest, nearly one third of the total population of the territory. It was incredible. I remember just seeing wave after wave of people, it started early in the afternoon and by 11pm people will still pouring past. It was incredible, totally peaceful and had an amazing power and energy to it.

Q: Why did you want to enter this particular photo series into the IPA?

This was a story that was particularly close to my heart and was a series I was particularly proud of and wanted to showcase.

Q: What does winning this competition mean to you?

It’s a huge honour and I am very grateful to be recognised in this way in such a fantastic competition! Thank You so much!

Q: Do you take photos in other genres as well?

Unfortunately not as much as I would like, I just don’t have the time. At present I mainly concentrate on shooting editorially, either on breaking news or long term storytelling. I do really appreciate other genres of photography and their creativity and hope at some point will start to experiment with other genres.

Q: If you could do anything or go anywhere, what would your dream photography project be?

Wow, that’s a tough one. I have been so lucky and privileged to photograph so many great things. Probably a grand reportage on climate change and the interconnected impacts, arguably the greatest story of this century, even with the pandemic we are living though and something which economically is just prohibitive to cover unless you are very lucky.

Q: What is next for you, are you working on anything right now?

Lots! I am currently working on a long term project on post-war Armenia and am waiting to finish a couple of projects in Asia as soon as travel restrictions are lifted, as well as daily editorial assignments.

Q: What would be your main piece of advice to photographers just starting out?

Stay Positive and keep faith! Our profession is super tough, but it is tough for everyone. Keep going! Remember there have never been so many images being taken and consumed in the history of photography!