James Oatway is an award-winning photojournalist, based in Johannesburg. He works for Sunday Times as a senior photographer. He has recently been in the news after capturing the gruesome xenophobic murder of Mozambican Emmanuel Sithole, whose death Oatway was accused of exploiting.
You once mentioned that photojournalism was never on the horizon for you, as an established photojournalist, what is your current sentiment on the profession you have adopted?
Most of the time I love my job. I get to travel, see amazing places and meet amazing people. I’m constantly learning about the world.
Do you ever see yourself reverting to an alternative profession?
Not really. This is more than a profession. It’s more a way of life. But sometimes I wish that I’d become a game ranger.
What are a few of your career highlights?
Judging the Pictures of the Year International Awards in Missouri USA earlier this year. Seeing a medic resuscitate a still-born baby in Hillbrow on New Year’s Eve. Meeting Nelson Mandela was the most inspirational experience.
What comes to mind when I mention “Emmanuel Sithole”
What is your opinion to the flak you received from those images?
I understand why. The images are horrific. It’s understandable that people will get upset. When people are upset they lash out.
If you could return to the moment just before you captured those images, do you think you would have the changed your approach?
How would you describe your experience of photojournalism, in three words?
Adventure. Pain. Reality.