Daniel Etter

Two shirtless miners covered in coal dust crouching down in a mineshaft. One is looking at the floor, while the other wipes his face with his hand.

Canon Ambassador Daniel Etter took this image of Sorim Ciobanu (front) and another miner as they rested in a mine shaft in Lonea Coal Mine, Petrila, Romania on 19 July 2018. "The coal industry in the Jiu Valley in Romania has seen steady decline since the 1990s," says Daniel. "During its peak, there were 54,000 people working in and around the mines. Nowadays, it is down to some 3,000." Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon EF 50mm f/1.2L USM lens at 1/80 sec, f/1.6, and ISO3200. © Daniel Etter

Pulitzer Prize winner Daniel Etter is a multi-talented photojournalist whose hard-hitting images consistently appear in the world's most prestigious news publications.

Photography, journalism and filmmaking; the Canon Ambassador has many strings to his creative bow. His gritty but often heart-rending reportage images have appeared across a selection of the world's top-flight publications, including The New York Times, Newsweek, Stern, Der Spiegel and Time.

"In 2001, I saw the documentary War Photographer about James Nachtwey," Daniel says. "It portrayed a romantic idea of the lonesome photographer who goes out into the world and tries to trigger positive change through photography. An almost impossible task. Being 20 years old, I was deeply inspired by it and knew that I wanted to pursue the same career path."

In 2008, Daniel graduated from the University of Bonn with a master's degree in political science, and a year later left the University of Munich with a diploma in journalism. Yet it is the camera, rather than the pen, that has become his main weapon of choice. "I love good photography, but I am not interested in the medium so much as the means in itself. I am fascinated by it as a vehicle to tell stories, go to places and experience history first-hand."

Daniel fully embarked on his career in photojournalism in 2010, first documenting social inequality in India, later conflict across the Middle East, and most recently the plight of migrants during the European refugee crisis. "For the past five years, I have been photographing undocumented migration towards the European Union," he says. "In 2015, it became a major issue in the international media."

A black and white headshot of Canon Ambassador and photojournalist Daniel Etter.
Location:Girona, Spain; Berlin, Germany
Specialist areas:Reportage
Favourite kit: Canon EOS R5
Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM
A man cries as he holds two children. A young girl, in a green lifejacket, clings to his neck, while a boy presses his head into the man's chest. A small dinghy is in the sea behind them.

Iraqi refugee Laith Majid Al Amiri cries tears of joy while holding his son and daughter after arriving safely on the Greek island of Kos. They crossed over from Bodrum, Turkey, in a flimsy rubber boat that lost air en route. The image went viral, triggering a wave of empathy for people affected by the refugee crisis. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark III (now succeeded by the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV) with a Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L USM lens (now succeeded by the Canon EF 35mm f/1.4L II USM) at 1/100 sec, f/1.4 and ISO3200. © Daniel Etter

Daniel admits that capturing the images, which were used by humanitarian organisations such as the International Committee of the Red Cross and Human Rights Watch, as well as leading daily newspapers and weeklies all over the world, had a lasting effect on him.

"My image of an Iraqi refugee family arriving by rubber dinghy on the Greek island of Kos went viral," he continues. "It triggered a wave of empathy that made many people donate towards NGOs that worked with refugees. Capturing that image had a huge impact on me. When I saw the raw emotions that morning on the beach in Kos and the love they showed towards each other, I was deeply moved. I started crying alongside them. The reaction it triggered in random strangers exacerbated this. I was so moved that I cried for three days again and again."

A young woman wearing blue robes poses for a picture while holding a bundle of green leaves.

22-year-old Alengo Osman Ahmed poses for a portrait in a shop in Awaday, Ethiopia, where she works to earn money for her family, following the death of her father. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM lens at 1/125 sec, f/2.5 and ISO3200. © Daniel Etter

A Sufi man sits in a dark room next to a drum and a small fire.

A Sufi man heating drums ahead of a Sufi ceremony in Harar, Ethiopia. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM lens at 1/20 sec, f/3.5 and ISO1600. © Daniel Etter

Daniel, along with a team of photographers working for The New York Times, won the 2016 Pulitzer Prize and the John Faber Awards of the Overseas Press Club of America, for their collective dramatic and evocative images documenting the crisis. "Winning the Pulitzer Prize was definitely a turning point in my career. I don't think there is another award that carries so much gravitas," says Daniel. That said, he has amassed numerous titles from an impressive array of competitions including World Press Photo and Pictures of the Year International.

How do you prepare for a job?

"For me it is mostly research. As a photojournalist working in hostile environments, this is the most important part. Mostly it means talking to trustworthy contacts on the ground, figuring out logistics and understanding where the risks and possibilities are."

Do you shoot with an agenda?

"I try to shoot without an agenda and show as much as possible of what is in front of me. But of course, as a photojournalist you take the side of the powerless, the oppressed and the voiceless."

How do you decide which parts of a scene to capture?

"I want to tell a story with my photography, so I'm always looking for visually striking sights that tell it."

What's your typical shooting methodology?

"I try to get as near to what's happening as much as possible. I shoot with a 35mm fixed lens because it creates a sense of being there in the photo, but this means I have to get really close in order to capture the action and emotion."

What is the most important attribute a photojournalist should possess, in your opinion?

"I think patience is the most important trait you can have. The ability to keep working on a story even though at times it might seem like it's going nowhere."

One thing I know

Daniel Etter

"One of the most important lessons I could give to a new photojournalist would be to always be open and respectful towards the people you photograph. Furthermore, it's essential to develop an instinct as to when it is appropriate to stop taking pictures and move on. Another thing to remember is that despite the adventure and the excitement that comes with it, you have to understand that this is work. After a while it will become routine. Don't get me wrong, for me it is the most amazing job in the world, but you still have to pay your bills."

Instagram: @DanielEtter

Twitter: @DanielEtterFoto


Daniel Etter's kitbag

The key kit that the pros use to take their photographs

Daniel Etter's kitbag containing Canon cameras, lenses and accessories.


Canon EOS R

A pioneering full-frame mirrorless camera that sets new standards for photographers and filmmakers. "The EOS R is small, lightweight and solid," says Daniel, "and the electronic viewfinder has changed the way I photograph."

Canon EOS R5

Whatever you shoot, however you shoot it, the EOS R5 will let you be creative in ways you simply couldn’t before. "The EOS R5 is the perfect camera. It feels just right in your hand and is sturdy, which is important in my line of work," says Daniel. "The face-tracking AF system has changed the way I focus and has considerably decreased the times I have missed the focus in chaotic situations."


Canon RF 28-70mm F2L USM

An advanced L-series zoom featuring a very fast f/2 aperture and delivering exceptional image quality. "The RF 28-70mm F2L USM is the best zoom lens I have ever laid my hands on. It's sharper than almost every other lens. Only the RF 50mm F1.2L USM is on par," says Daniel.

Canon RF 50mm F1.2L USM

The RF lens that sets new standards in photographic performance, delivering supreme sharpness and extra creative control that's simply remarkable. "The RF 50mm F1.2L USM is a game-changer. Resolution and speed up to the widest aperture are unparalleled," says Daniel.

Canon RF 35mm F1.8 Macro IS STM

Enjoy flexible, practical shooting and explore your world in close-up with this incredibly versatile and lightweight 35mm f/1.8 macro lens with Hybrid IS. Daniel says: "This is my second lens to go natively with the Canon EOS R. I love it for its small size and its unobtrusive looks."


Lens pen

"I use this to clean lenses and cameras," says Daniel.


"I can fit this and spare batteries into my pockets, and that's it, I'm ready to go," says Daniel.

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