Photographer Jonathan Bachman on how he got that iconic photo of the Baton Rouge protests


A screenshot from the Reuters website, showing Jonathan Bachman's photo of the moment that police arrested Ieshia Evans. - JONATHAN BACHMAN/REUTERS
  • A screenshot from the Reuters website, showing Jonathan Bachman's photo of the moment that police arrested Ieshia Evans.

It's a photo that's gone around the world via newspapers, television and social media: Two law enforcement officers in heavy gear — who appear to be Louisiana State Police — approaching a young woman in a long dress who is standing in the middle of Baton Rouge's Airline Highway, directly in front of Baton Rouge Police Department headquarters. The woman is about to be arrested for blocking the highway; she stands with perfect posture, impassive.

The photographer who captured the image is Jonathan Bachman, a New Orleans freelancer who was on assignment for Reuters that night. 

"When I took that picture, I had no idea it would get this kind of response," Bachman told Gambit, adding that CNN had been calling his mother in New Jersey, trying to get in touch with him. "When I was taking the photo, it was just a photo that represented what was going on in the moment." 

Bachman was photographing what he characterized as "peaceful demonstrations" Saturday following the police shooting of Alton Sterling earlier that week. "A group of protesters were blocking Airline [Highway] in front of police headquarters," he says. Law enforcement officers from various divisions came out of the building and arrested a few people. "They said, 'If you don’t block the road, we won’t arrest you.' I heard someone say 'That woman’s gonna get arrested,' and I started shooting just as two police offers came over and arrested her.

"The whole event was very peaceful. They sort of carried her off. She wasn’t resisting; she was making her stand." (That woman, Ieshia Evans, was freed one day later.)

As for the cops, Bachman said they were respectful as they conducted the arrest: "I've had people ask me, 'Well, why are police in full riot gear, and this woman’s just in a dress?' Well, five officers were killed in Dallas just the night before."

Photographer Jonathan Bachman, right, with his father. - COURTESY JONATHAN BACHMAN PHOTOGRAPHY
  • Photographer Jonathan Bachman, right, with his father.
Bachman began his photography career after leaving college shortly after Hurricane Katrina and the federal levee failures. For several years, he photographed for Gambit, including sideline shots at most New Orleans Saints home games and Super Bowl XLVII. Today he freelances for various wire services, photographing events like the Shreveport floods as well as NFL and NBA games. 

He characterized the last two days as "surreal," and said that he had "a few drinks" last night. What's next?

"I’m just going to keep on doing my job," Bachman said. "I’m still a freelancer, so I get a call and they say, 'Are you available?' and I say, 'Yep.'"

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