Interview with David Bathgate – A leading photographer who guides to achieve.

David Bathgate is one of my best teachers I had in my life, who always teaches me to be simple, be honest and to respect others. He has a deep sense of responsibility as a photographer and as a mentor to keep no secret for own purpose rather to spread all his knowledge to others. This behavior leads him to become a great photographer and earn respect by everyone. His words, his works, his working style easily could uphold a photographer’s perspective in terms of  being able to become a good human and an outstanding photographer together” Gmb Akash

© David Bathgate

© David Bathgate

David Bathgate studied anthropology and journalism at the Pennsylvania State University in the U.S., earning a doctorate and master’s degree, respectively, in those two disciplines. Subsequently, university teaching and visual journalism followed as parallel career pursuits. First photographing and writing for local magazines and newspapers, David eventually took his co-careers to Australia and worked on photographic projects in Indonesia and Southeast Asia. In 1993 he closed the door on academia to become a full-time visual storyteller, covering social and environmental topics, worldwide.

Today, David is represented by Corbis Images and works regularly in Asia and the Middle East, as well as in Europe, for publications such as Time, Newsweek, The New York Times, Geo, Stern, Spiegel, Focus and The London Sunday Times Magazine.

Gmb Akash: Please introduce yourself. How did your journey in photography begin?

David Bathgate: My name is David Bathgate.  I’m an American photographer, living in Germany and represented by Corbis Images.  My earliest interest in photography came simply through enjoying the wonderful pages of National Geographic Magazine, when I was a kid.  It wasn’t until high school and my involvement with the school newspaper, that I began making photos myself – with a 35mm camera and 50mm, owned by the school.

I worked as both a writer and a shooter at the paper and when I entered university; I studied journalism/photojournalism and combined this with anthropology, to satisfy my interest in other cultures and peoples.  This combination placed me on the path I still follow today.

© David Bathgate

© David Bathgate

Gmb Akash: You are known for your outstanding works on Asia and the Middle East, can you please share your experience in the lands of Afghanistan? By mentioning adversity & opportunity for creating “Afghanistan-the country”


David Bathgate: My way to Afghanistan was a bit convoluted.  It actually has connections to Bangladesh and teaching at Pathshala – South Asian Institute for Photography.  It was through teaching workshops at Pathshala that I met National Geographic photographer, Reza Deghati.

Following the ousting of the Taliban from Kabul in late 2001, Reza and his brother Manoocher were setting up an institute in that city for training young Afghans – men and women – to become photojournalists and to tell their own visual stories about life in their country.  Having an interest in this project, I contacted the brothers and shortly thereafter, found myself in Kabul as a photojournalism instructor at “Aina” (meaning “Mirror” in the Afghan language, Dari).

From there, my personal work has focused on both military action and civilian life. I’ve been embedded with U.S. Army troops and marines a total of 13 times in the last 10 years.  Always on these embeds, I try to focus on both sides of the issue, capturing the daily lives of normal Afghan people, caught up in the struggles of conflict.  It is my hope that such coverage will, to some degree, contribute to mutual understanding and eventual stability of Afghanistan as a democratic land.

© David Bathgate

Gmb Akash:  You have had an influence on a number of photographers. You are one of my most favorite mentor & to so many others. Did you ever think of yourself as a teacher in the beginning?

David Bathgate: Yes, in some ways I did.  I’ve never been one to keep information and experiences to myself.  I like to pass it all on – to give others a glimpse of where I’ve been, what I’ve been through and what I’ve learned from it.  Photography is in large part a solitary venture.  We work most times alone.  But the end product of our work as photographers – as photojournalists, is to “communicate” to a broader audience. This is my aim as a photographer and by teaching others the process – by extension, that audience grows ever larger.

© David Bathgate

Gmb Akash: We would like to request you to introduce “The compelling Image” to our Asian photographers. What extra facilities could a student get from virtual classroom from any of the course of TCI to bring out a promising photographer from them?

David Bathgate: There are lots of great “on location” photo workshops – worldwide.  And many of these are taught by accomplished and inspiring instructors. But not everyone can afford the time and money to benefit from such venues.  This is where online-interactive courses can be of great value to aspiring photographers.

The Compelling Image (TCI) courses and workshops, taught online and interactively by world-renowned photographers, bring that valuable learning experience to you – wherever you live – and at a fraction of “on location” workshop cost.

Key to TCI design is the “Virtual Classroom” learning experience, whereby students upload weekly assignments that can be done wherever they live and within their own busy time schedules.  Within classes, all students can view each others’ work and instructor comments associated with it.  From here, constructive and educational discussion follows from all sides, with the result being that students learn not just from one person, but from the insights, perspectives and experiences of all students on the course.  It’s a dynamic way of learning photography and video production and a practical alternative to costly workshops held half-way around the world.

  © David Bathgate

Gmb Akash: As a photographer what is the most complicated issue you experienced & how you overcome?


David Bathgate: This undoubtedly has to do with conflict zones – such as Afghanistan – and being two to three weeks in the midst of all that a military combat unit experiences.  First challenge is gaining the acceptance of young soldiers for whom I’m an unknown outsider.  I deal with this through friendliness, “transparency” and doing what I can outside my role as a photographer.  I fill sandbags like they do, help clean up the spaces we occupy, like they do.  I generally “hang out with the troops,” as much as possible.  It usually takes a few days, but eventually I fall into conversations an acceptance. I become just another member of the unit – for a brief period and albeit armed with only a camera.

The hardest part of it all, however, is when someone in the unit becomes injured in combat – or worse.  This is when making photos becomes a delicate and ethical affair.  These are the most difficult parts of the job for me – doing my work objectively and still maintaining a feeling of being human.

© David Bathgate

Gmb Akash: For creating new project or series what priories a photographer (all-purpose) need to keep in mind?

David Bathgate: I’m a news “junkie” – constantly following BBC, CNN, Al Jazeera. I follow news items and features in the internet, magazines and newspapers.  I take notes on things and people that would be of interest to me, photographically.  This is a good first step for any photographer looking for projects or starting one already in mind.  Fact-gathering and establishing contacts – through Facebook, Lightstalkers and other social media is the way I approach projects. And the internet has made all this easier to accomplish, in very short time.

Photographers need to be business people today, too.  So when planning a new series or project, take serious notes and keep accurate accounts of the budget you’re setting for your project – “money-wise” and “time-wise.”

Once you have this in place, outline your plan in as much detail as possible.  Where do you need to be?  What kinds of shots should be included?  Who do you need to contact and how will you gain access all that is needed for your coverage?

Manage your project well, too.  This means paying strict attention to your work-flow, once you start making pictures.  And filing your material promptly and orderly as soon as your work starts to accumulate, should be top-of-the-list.

Much of this has always been associated with being a successful photographer, but with the advent of evermore sophisticated digital capture and filing systems, the need for disciplined organization is most critical – even before that first photo is made.

© David Bathgate

Gmb Akash: Give your opinion on Photography as profession.

David Bathgate: Photography, for me, is a way of life – and a fantastic one.  And if it is a “way of life” for you, you are passionate about it every moment of the day – and often in your dreams, as well.  That’s what it is for me – and more.

This is the creative side to the profession of photography.  There’s the pragmatic side, too.  Grow as a visual artist, but ground your profession in solid business practices – marketing, record keeping and making sure you earn what you are worth as a creator of distinctive and valuable photographs.

As for the “market place,” some people are saying that this is drying up for photographers.  Fewer magazines and newspapers – all victims of changing times and economies.  I don’t see it this way, though.  There are ever-expanding opportunities for photographers publishing in the internet and this will continue to increase.  The next stage – and it’s already begun – is “pay-for-content” publications on-line, which will boost earning potential for photographers who may never have seen publication of their work in paper form. I believe the future for photographers in the internet to be a bright one.

© David Bathgate

Gmb Akash: A brief paragraph on “One day Journey with photographer David Bathgate”?


David Bathgate: Bottom line – I like simplicity. I keep equipment and anything I must carry – and sometimes run with – to a bare minimum.  I usually carry one camera body – a Canon 5D II with a 24-70mm 2.8 lens.  In a jacket pocket (or pouch clipped to my belt), I have a 24mm, 1.4 prime lens. If the country / situation is previously unknown to me, or I need an interpreter, I’ll hire a knowledgeable local for the work.  With a general daily plan in mind (discussed with my “fixer” / guide-interpreter), I set out early with the mind-set that all will go well.  And fortunately, it usually does.  Flexibility and adaptability are the key when it doesn’t, though.

  © David Bathgate

Gmb Akash: We request you to give message for our raising photographers & we want to receive few of your secret that you want to pass.

David Bathgate: If you want to take your photography to the professional level, you must work hard at it.  There’s a lot of competition out there and you must feel driven to make photographs in a way that reflects your vision of the world and your’s alone.  Know your camera craft and work in a unique way. Look at the work of others, analyze it and learn from it.  Work on projects that interest you the most and don’t settle for the superficial shots – those first photos that anyone and everyone makes.  Dig deeper to capture the emotion involved and communicate it clearly to the viewer.  This is what will get you recognized for your abilities – your special talent as the one behind the camera.

The only “secret” I’m aware of, is that there is no secret to success as a photographer.  Just about everyone has a different story as to “how they got there.”  And don’t think that “formal” education in photography is always required.  Most professional photographers took workshops and courses along the way, but studied something broader during their school days.  Photography is really one of those professions for which no specific diploma or degree is necessary to reach the top.  You basically just go out and do it – but with everything you’ve got to offer – and full gas!  Practice, complete self-assignments and establish beneficial contacts with editors and others that have gone before you, in order to place yourself where you want to be in photography.

© David Bathgate

David Bathgate is spreading his knowledge & experiences without borders.  Thanks to him for giving us time & help us by sharing immense knowledge on different topics. You can view more of David’s work on his personal website:

In addition, he regularly conducts workshops and seminars on photography, photojournalism and visual communication in places like Dharamshala, India and Ladakh and at institutions like, Pathshala – South Asian Institute of Photography, in Dhaka, Bangladesh, AINA in Kabul, Afghanistan, the Foundry Photojournalism Workshops and interactively-online–at He is the founder of The compelling image.  I am fortunate by getting him as my mentor and learning work from him closely – Gmb Akash

Author: GMB Akash

"I see the beauty of people and the human soul in the pictures I take. And though the circumstances of some of the people I portray may be grim, back-breaking, depraved, the people themselves are always remarkable characters and souls" For me Photography is my language, to access, to communicate, to identify and mostly to make it hear. Through photography I only jot down my heart’s language. The best part about being a photographer is that I’m able to articulate the experiences of the voiceless and to bring their identities to the forefront which gives meaning and purpose to my own life.

4 thoughts on “Interview with David Bathgate – A leading photographer who guides to achieve.”

  1. Hello david how are you? i am fine. hope you are good with your all family. long time we don”t have comunication…. well how is your helth,thanks regards
    Alock,Dola,Rajkumar & Drishty


  2. Wonderful interview……interesting, inspiring and full of useful information for anyone seeking to further a career in photography or photojournalism. I also very much enjoyed the incredible images accompanying the story. Thank you once again Akash for sharing.


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