Peter Turnley has worked in more than 90 countries and has witnessed and documented most of the major global news stories of the past 30 years, including the 1991 Gulf War; the war in Iraq; conflicts in the Balkans, Somalia, and Haiti; the fall of the Berlin Wall; the end of Apartheid in South Africa; and Hurricane Katrina. His photographs have been featured on the cover of Newsweek 43 times and his work has also been featured in National Geographic, Harper’s, Stern, and The Sunday Times of London.His relationship with Gerald Zaltman, founding partner of Olson Zaltman Associates, dates back nearly 15 years to his time as a Nieman Fellow at Harvard.
James Forr: I was just looking at some of your work on your Tumblr. You have one image that is a scene of just the most intense human suffering, and then the next image that you show is something like two lovers kissing on a park bench in Paris. What is the role of your own emotions when you are working?
Peter Turnley: I first began in photography when I was 16 years old, and a camera has been essentially two things. It has been one of a passport which allows me to go almost anywhere and have a sense of purpose for being almost anywhere and it allows me to be accepted in an incredibly wide and diverse array of situations relating to the world and human condition. And secondly, the camera has been a tool which honors me a voice, an opportunity to speak and to share.