Taking Chances on Stories to Tell: Photojournalist Deanne Fitzmaurice at Bild


As Deanne Fitzmaurice describes it, a photojournalist's job is part sociology and part archeology, but most important, it's being on the cutting edge of what's happening, telling stories about people. It's this combination of varied disciplines, connecting with subjects, and learning something new every day that has held her fascination from her very beginnings at the San Francisco Chronicle through to the rich tapestry she's woven as a visual storyteller today. We recently sat down with Fitzmaurice to gain insights into the many facets of her career as part of our coverage of B&H's 50th Anniversary Bild Expo 2023.

During our chat, Fitzmaurice regales us with details from some of her most impactful projects, including the challenging mix of sensitivity and perseverance needed to tell the story of Saleh, a seriously injured Iraqi boy. After explaining how this assignment morphed from a one-day news story into a Pulitzer-prize-winning long-term project, we take a deep dive into how image selection and sequencing were key to this award-winning series.

Never one to shy away from a challenge, Fitzmaurice also describes confronting baseball great Barry Bonds about his problem with photographers, which shattered his impenetrable armor and resulted in her gaining exclusive access to photograph him both on and off the field.

When discussing essential rules of journalistic ethics and credibility in documenting an unfolding scene, Fitzmaurice points to the category of portraiture as a rare opportunity to shift out of fly on the wall mode to direct the subject and build rapport. We conclude our chat with insights about the role luck has played in her career, and how she puts herself in a position for synchronicity to unfold.

Above photograph © Deanne Fitzmaurice

Guest: Deanne Fitzmaurice

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Musicians perform, in Havana, Cuba.
Saleh Khalaf, 9, was severely injured by a bomb in Iraq. His father Raheem comforts him.
A dog’s shadow appears on a horse at Pine Ridge Reservation, in South Dakota.
Brianna Noble trains a wild horse at Mulatto Meadows, in Briones, California.
Goats graze for argan nuts in a tree, in Marrakesh, Morocco.
In Wyoming, amid a boom in natural gas drilling, most ranchers have no mineral rights to their land. They lose land value as drilling occurs on their property.
A vintage car is seen through a stained-glass window, in Havana, Cuba.
During the 2020 COVID pandemic, in-person rituals were restricted at places of worship, leading Pastor Gregory Bonfiglio to sprinkle holy water on parishioner photos in preparation for a service.
The University of Michigan Wolverines football team train with the Navy SEALS, in San Diego, California.
Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Demarcus Robinson celebrates after the Super Bowl LIV win against the San Francisco 49ers.
Deanne Fitzmaurice photographs Golden State Warriors star Steph Curry during a Championship parade. Photograph © Ray Chavez, 2022
Deanne Fitzmaurice, Pulitzer- Prize-winning photographer. Photograph © Anna Kuperberg, 2011

Episode Timeline

  • 1:18: Deanne Fitzmaurice's beginnings in photography, from a cross-country road trip to her discovery of photojournalism in art school.
  • 3:42: Learning the ethics of journalism by working on the street, and how making portraits allows a photographer to shift from being a fly on the wall and offer direction to the subject.
  • 8:55: Fitzmaurice's Pulitzer-Prize-winning story about severely injured Iraqi boy, Saleh Khalaf, and how her coverage evolved from a one-day story to a 20-year project.
  • 14:08: Tips for collaborating on stories with a reporter, thinking of ways to tell the story in a visual manner, and pitching stories together with a writer to make each other better.
  • 21:22: The 20 pictures submitted for Fitzmaurice's Pulitzer and tips for sequencing images in a story to keep the viewer engaged and guessing.  
  • 26:36: Episode Break
  • 27:16: Fitzmaurice's professional sports photography career, the importance of anticipation in covering this subject, and the backstory to her exclusive access to baseball legend Barry Bonds.
  • 35:00: Secrets to Fitzmaurice's behind-the-scenes coverage, and how to photograph in a way that looks like you have access to professional athletes and celebrities.
  • 39:18: The contents of Fitzmaurice's camera bag, her transition from DSLRs to mirrorless, and her favorite Nikon lenses.
  • 41:54: Co-founding the camera bag company ThinkTank, in 2005, and some of ThinkTank's newest releases… including a podcast!
  • 48:04: The role luck has played in Fitzmaurice's career, and how she puts herself in a position for luck to unfold.

Guest Bio:

Deanne Fitzmaurice has garnered the attention of global publications, starting with her role as a photojournalist for the San Francisco Chronicle. Additionally, she has shot and created stories for the likes of Sports Illustrated, ESPN, and National Geographic, among many other editorial outlets. In 2005, she earned the Pulitzer Prize for an in-depth photographic essay documenting a young Iraqi war victim. She's also won awards from the Picture of the Year International awards, AI-AP American Photography, and others. When she's not on the move, Fitzmaurice helps oversee ThinkTank, the cult camera bag business she co-founded.

Stay Connected:

Deanne Fitzmaurice Website: https://www.deannefitzmaurice.com/
Deanne Fitzmaurice Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/deannefitzmaurice/
Deanne Fitzmaurice X: https://twitter.com/deanne_fitz
Deanne Fitzmaurice Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DeanneFitzmauricePhotography
Think-tank: https://www.thinktankphoto.com/

Host: Allan Weitz
Senior Creative Producer: Jill Waterman
Senior Producer: Mike Weinstein
Executive Producer: Shawn C Steiner