Carlos Barria on photographing U.S. President Trump's visit to London
Last week, Reuters photographer Carlos Barria photographed U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit to London, including visits with Queen Elizabeth and Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May, as well as an event commemorating the 75th anniversary of D-Day. In a Reuters Best: Journalist Spotlight Q&A, Carlos—who was recently among a team of Reuters photographers awarded a Pulitzer Prize for Breaking News Photography—offers an inside look at covering the president’s trip.
Q: What was the process of covering Trump’s visit to London?
A: This kind of trip normally runs on a very tight schedule, given the logistical challenge of moving the president and the people around him, including the press. I was among a group of reporters called the White House Pool — a 13-member group made up of journalists from different outlets who travel with the president wherever he goes. We flew on Air Force One and traveled in his motorcade. The trip to London was particularly tight because the meeting with Queen Elizabeth requires a very particular and formal protocol.
Q: What was the hardest part of covering the story?
A: The hardest part was trying to stay awake. We left Washington D.C. on June 2, which was actually my birthday. As I like to do on birthdays, I went for a 60-mile bike ride that morning and afterwards headed to Andrews Air Force base to fly overnight and arrived in London at 8 a.m. local time, or at 3 a.m. Washington time. The challenge then was working for 15 hours after not sleeping much on the plane, with tired legs.
Q: Why was this an important story to tell our customers?
A: President Trump is at the center of the political arena, not just in the U.S. but globally, so whatever he does and whatever he says usually dominates the news cycle. Today’s news cycle is very short, so things move quickly.
Q: What makes you passionate about photojournalism?
A: I always say that my job gives me a front-row seat to witness history. I have covered many stories in my 20-year career, from natural disasters to wars. Covering the White House gives me an inside view on the decision-making process that will have ripple effects for years to come. For example, I covered President Trump’s speeches about immigration and several meetings he held about the issue with cabinet members. At the same time, I joined the team of Reuters photographers that followed the migrant caravan last year. I was one of the few journalists covering the funeral of a Guatemalan girl who died in border patrol custody. I can be in the Oval Office while Trump talks about immigrants but also find myself walking along muddy trails following a funeral procession in the mountains of Guatemala covering an immigrant’s death. That is powerful.
Q: What is your favorite subject and what do you find most fulfilling about it?
A: My favorite kind of photography is street photography and daily life. It’s the purest kind of photography in my opinion. I am not a big talker so when I have the chance to do street photography I can move around quietly, without talking to anyone, and just observing.
Q: What have been your most rewarding and most difficult experiences as a photojournalist?
A: The most rewarding has been to help young photographers develop and grow. The most difficult has been seeing people dying in front of me, in war zones and natural disasters, without being able to do anything to help.
Q: Can you imagine being anything other than a photojournalist? If so, what?
A: I would have liked to be a professional triathlete, but I guess I am too old for that. I would be very happy having a bike shop/coffee shop in the Canary Islands and riding time-to-time.