One-handed photojournalist leaves impression at SEA Games 31

By Hoang Ha   May 20, 2022 | 04:22 am PT
One-handed photojournalist leaves impression at SEA Games 31
Evan Andraws Latief takes photos with his left hand at the Pencak Silat event at a Bac Tu Liem Gymnasium in Hanoi, May 16, 2022. Photo courtesy of Ngo Tran Hai An
Evan Andraws Latief used his left ring finger to press the shutter at the precise moment an Indonesian athlete made the winning kick.

"It was a fantastic moment. Indonesia has finally won a gold medal in Taekwondo," said the 24-year-old Indonesian photojournalist after the final between Vietnam and Indonesia in the men’s under 63-kilogram weight class at Tay Ho Gymnasium in Hanoi on May 18.

Latief stated that he has been anticipating this gold medal for a long time since many Indonesian athletes had pocketed bronze medals.

It wasn't until the third final between Indonesia’s Muhammad Bassam Raihan and Vietnam’s Ngo Quang Tien that he felt victorious.

"I'm overjoyed and many Vietnamese audiences congratulated us too," he said.

Latief had to overcome many challenges to report on the ongoing SEA Games 31 and capture the moment Indonesia athletes brought home medals.

He was born without a right arm. Despite numerous obstacles, the Jakartan reporter never gave up. He worked hard from a young age to practice doing everything with his left hand, overcoming self-doubt and ignoring the curious eyes of those around him.

"I'm just doing my best. I learned to adapt to my fate as best I could," he said, adding he regards himself as an optimist.

He picked up the passion for photography when he was in high school and later studied photography for four years at university.

"I decided to pursue a career as a professional photojournalist two years ago," he explained.

Without a right arm, the most difficult aspect of holding a camera for him is balance.

"You have to hold the camera firmly while also being agile so you don't miss the good moments."

Latief admits he struggles with using the telephoto lens with one hand, but he's working on it.

"There are some limitations in terms of angle that I am able to do. But I'm working on it. Personally, I want to make photographs that tell stories," he confesses.

After arriving in Hanoi on May 11, he was excited and nervous since this was his first time working abroad. He is currently a photojournalist for an online newspaper as well as a photographer for Indonesian National Olympic Committee.

"But, thankfully, everything has gone swimmingly. The most interesting difference between Vietnam and Indonesia is that the driver sits on the left side."

"Vietnamese cuisine is also delicious. I particularly enjoy pho".

Latief holds up the camera and adjusts the lens with his left hand during the Pencak Silat event on May 16, 2022. Photo courtesy of An

Latief holds up the camera and adjusts the lens with his left hand during the Pencak Silat event on May 16, 2022. Photo courtesy of An

Vietnam’s photojournalist Ngo Tran Hai An, who met Latief on May 16 while shooting the Pencak Silat discipline, said the most impressive aspect of this reporter was his passion for the job despite his disability.

"I was surprised to see that he only used one hand but he masterfully and skillfully used the camera to take photos," An recalled.

Since the camera is designed for right-handed people, the shutter and other buttons are located on the right side, making it much more difficult for Latief.

He did, however, still manage to take and send photos to the editorial office as quickly as a regular reporter.

"His enthusiasm and hard work really moved me," An said.

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