Marco Longari

A woman holds a young child, while two other children stand close by, in a burnt-out area of a recently attacked Mozambique village.

Photojournalist and Canon Ambassador Marco Longari has travelled the world documenting crises and conflict. This image of a young woman holding a child on her hip was taken in a burnt-out area of Aldeia da Paz outside Macomia in Mozambique, weeks after an Islamist group attacked the village in 2019. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/5000 sec, f/1.2 and ISO100. © AFP Photo/Marco Longari

In a career lasting more than two decades, Italian photojournalist and Canon Ambassador Marco Longari has covered news stories in countries including Kosovo, Rwanda, Israel and the Palestinian territories, and South Africa. His images capture the reality of life for ordinary people, especially during major social upheavals, conflicts and demonstrations.

Born in Rome, Marco's love of photography began when his father gave him a Canon A1 film camera as a present in 1995. He went on to study photography at the city's ISFCI Academy, where he specialised in photojournalism.

"I was always interested in history and current affairs," says Marco. "Then, at the academy, I met a teacher who helped me understand that what I really wanted was to get involved in photojournalism and documentary photography. He transformed my vague infatuation with photography into something much deeper that has shaped the past 20 years of my life."

Soon after graduating in 1999, he began his career as a freelance photojournalist covering the war in Kosovo. "I was living in Rome and this conflict was happening very close to Italy, on the other side of the Adriatic Sea," he says. "I wanted to find out what was happening there and make sense of it. It was an opportunity I couldn't miss.

"While I was in Kosovo, I met a lot of important photojournalists who taught me everything about the business that you don't get taught in school,” he continues. "It was an immense privilege to sit with them and learn from them."

A black and white headshot of Canon Ambassador and photojournalist Marco Longari.
Location: Johannesburg, South Africa

Specialist area: Photojournalism

Favourite kit:
Canon EOS R5
Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM
A Gabonese woman crouches behind a wall to take cover from an approaching tank, while covering her mouth with a handkerchief.

A Gabonese woman takes cover, protecting her mouth from tear gas, as the authorities attempt to crack down on a demonstration in the capital, Libreville, after the country's disputed 2016 Presidential Election. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/1600 sec, f/2.5 and ISO50. © AFP Photo/Marco Longari

In 2000, Marco moved to Rwanda and while there discovered that Agence France-Presse (AFP) was looking for a photographer to cover the region. He stayed for four years, then moved to Nairobi in Kenya for another four years, where he photographed news stories around East Africa.

This was followed by seven years based in Jerusalem, from where he covered events in Israel and the Palestinian territories, as well as Egypt, Libya and Syria. In 2012, he was named Best Photographer on the Wires by Time magazine for his coverage of the Arab Spring in North Africa and the Middle East.

Since 2014, Marco has operated out of Johannesburg, South Africa. As AFP's Africa Chief Photographer, he assigns other photographers to cover stories while still continuing to go on assignment himself. For the past four years, he has also been working on a long-term project about politics in Africa, which includes coverage of elections and demonstrations around the continent.

A Gabonese woman in distress shouts and throws her arms in the air.

A young woman is overcome with emotion outside the Libreville magistrates court in Gabon. She was waiting with other relatives of young men arrested during the wave of unrest that followed the announcement of the results of the 2016 election. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III with a Canon EF 24mm f/1.4L II USM lens at 1/4000 sec, f/1.4 and ISO50. © AFP Photo/Marco Longari

Marco's photojournalism has always been driven by his ambition to record what's really happening in the world today, which has often led him into dangerous situations.

"While pursuing this idea of being able to bear witness to the time in which I live, inevitably I have found myself in places where events are unfortunately surrounded by a good dose of violence," he says. "I'm not attracted to violence or danger, but I'm extremely interested in the predicaments of the people involved in these kinds of situations. This feeling of empathy is what really brings me to those situations. I feel close to the ordinary citizens that are paying the price for what happens around them."

How do you prepare photojournalists for covering potentially dangerous situations?

"What goes through my mind, most of the time, are the same questions I have when covering stories: is it safe, do we have enough information about the situation, are we correctly representing the situation represented in the story? You just have to make the best decisions you can with the facts available."

When you're covering conflict or unrest, how do you decide where to go and what to shoot?

"With experience, you develop a certain level of intuition about where you have to go, and then you try to concentrate on what is really at the heart of the story. You don't have time to tell the story of everyone you meet, so you have to focus on people whose stories are universal. By telling a story through the eyes of one person, you also tell the story of those who have similar backgrounds and are in similar predicaments."

Which assignment has brought you the most satisfaction?

"In 2005, I went to Nairobi, Kenya to do a story about water and sanitation. One of my pictures showed a little girl sitting next to a tap that was closed with a padlock. That picture was shown in The Guardian and when entrepreneur Duncan Goose saw it, it inspired him to set up The One Foundation. That organisation has now raised over £20 million for clean water and sanitation projects in disadvantaged communities."

What personal attributes does a photojournalist need?

"Kindness and empathy. I don't think you can do this job if you're not a kind person – someone who really cares about other people."

One thing I know

Marco Longari

"It's important for photojournalists to have knowledge and awareness. You can't do your job well if you don't understand what is behind the images you're shooting. You're mistaken if you think the reality of a situation is what's unfolding around you because there is much more that makes a story. If you don't have all the information you need to understand a situation, you're doing a disservice to yourself, to your profession and to the people whose story you're trying to tell. My best advice is to try to balance a good dose of life experience with thorough research and a well-rounded academic background."

Instagram: @marcolongari


Marco Longari's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Marco Longari's kitbag containing Canon cameras and lenses.


Canon EOS R5

The EOS R5's uncompromising performance will revolutionise your photography and filmmaking. "This camera is completely mind-boggling. It's another game, another level," says Marco. "Canon has managed to create something that's really out of this world. The quality of the low-light performance and the dynamic range of the sensor are spectacular, as are the fast continuous shooting rates and the laser-fast and sharp autofocus."

Canon EOS M6 Mark II

The EOS M6 Mark II's portable design means it can be taken virtually anywhere, making this the perfect photographic tool with which to document your life and explore everyday creative moments. Marco says: "I have two Canon EOS M6 Mark II cameras, which I always carry with me. They take me into places where big cameras could never take me, but are still so powerful and so good. They are really faithful companions."


Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM

A wide-angle prime lens with a fast f/1.8 maximum aperture and macro capabilities. "This lens is super-sharp and the quality of the bokeh and the details are excellent. It's a super lens. It's also light, small and compact," says Marco.

Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM

This RF lens sets new standards in photographic performance, delivering supreme sharpness, extra creative control and a low-light performance that's simply remarkable. Marco says: "This is a big lens and sometimes a bit challenging to use in the field, but the quality is spectacular."

Canon RF 70-200mm F2.8L IS USM

A super compact f/2.8 telephoto zoom that incorporates a five-stop Image Stabilizer to ensure great handheld results, closer focusing down to 0.7m and fastest-ever AF. "I always have the 70-200mm lens in my bag because I can't afford to be caught off guard if something's happening a little further away," says Marco.

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