Manoocher Deghati

Position: Middle East Photo Editor
Location: Cairo
Started at AP: 2011
Originally from: Iran

Manoocher Deghati describes himself as a citizen of the world. Born in Iran, the French citizen was schooled in cinematography in Rome and began his work as a photojournalist during the Iranian revolution in 1979. Since then his career has spanned widely, including work for Sipa Press, Time, Newsweek, AFP, the U.N. and National Geographic magazine. He was severely wounded in 1996 during a confrontation in Ramallah and spent 18 months recovering at a military hospital in Paris. In 2011, Deghati began his role in AP’s Middle East hub, just days before the Egyptian revolution started. Today he supervises, assigns and organizes the daily photo production of 20 countries, including Afghanistan and Libya.

What was it like to start working in Cairo just as the revolution started?

My first day working in the bureau was the day the fighting began. That day one of our photographers was badly injured after police threw a rock at his face and two other AP photographers took him to the hospital. So there I was in the office sitting alone on my first day, with my photographers at the hospital. I asked them to send me their camera memory cards so that I could edit the photos while they took care of the injured photographer. As soon as I got the material I started editing but quickly realized that I had no idea how to get the photos into the AP system because I was new and hadn't learned yet. I ended up having to send the photos to New York by email. Because of this event, as well as all of the other difficult news the regional bureau covers, I've learned quickly and deeply about how AP works. 

What’s the most exciting part of your job? 

In the beginning I wasn't sure about applying for this editor position because I knew that I wouldn't have enough time to take my own photos and I've been shooting for over 30 years! But I quickly realized how much satisfaction I was getting from assigning, editing and brainstorming with photographers. This region is so difficult and complex. As a photographer I could only be in one place at a time but as an editor today I’m able to be in 20 places at once. I thought I would go mad not taking pictures but in the end I see that I’m still a vital part of the creative process and it’s very satisfying.

Why is the AP a good place to work for photographers?

I have been working as a photojournalist since 1979 and my years with AP have been the most interesting and fruitful of my career. AP focuses on high journalistic standards and has big impact. Also, I've discovered so many great journalists here who are very professional and devoted to their work. AP is serious about journalism, which is why I’m so happy working here.

What challenges lie ahead?

Because of the changes in our profession, I’m excited about journalists having more cross-format skills. For example, I’m a good photojournalist but I wish I were a better writer. Being able to take pictures, write and shoot video creates storytelling opportunities. At the end of the day it’s all about the content—having different skills allows you to tell the story better.

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