You, Me and Everyone We Know: Ian Berry and Bieke Depoorter

When big changes hit, how can photographers document them? Do they have a responsibility to cover the news headlines, or are there other approaches? In the latest addition to an ongoing series bringing together two creatives of different generations to discuss capturing change, Diane Smyth talks with Magnum Photos’ Ian Berry and Bieke Depoorter

It’s a truism but currently we’re all experiencing it: change is the only constant. Societies and environments are continually evolving and occasionally erupt into era-defining shifts, and that’s something photographers Ian Berry and Bieke Depoorter have both experienced first-hand. Bieke was on the ground in Egypt in 2011 during the Arab Spring protests, for example, and Ian documented the massacre at Sharpeville, South Africa in 1960, in which the police shot and killed 69 peaceful protestors. It’s not the only thing they have in common – both are highly successful, both made their names while still in their early twenties, and both are members of the prestigious Magnum Photos agency. But in other ways they couldn’t be more different, with widely varying approaches to both photography and to documenting the world with it. Ian is motivated by a desire to “show people on one side of the world what was happening to people on the other side of the world,” he says; Bieke opts to focus on the small-scale and the intimate.