‘We pay a heavy price in the field’: Pierre Zakrzewski wrote in 2004

‘I’ve many friends and colleagues who have died so the world can be better informed,’ Irish journalist wrote

Writing in St Conleth's College 2004 yearbook, Pierre Zakrzewski said with the death of Irish cameraman Simon Cumbers, who was killed in Saudi Arabia earlier that year, "we pay a heavy price in the field".

“I’ve many friends and colleagues who have died so that the world can be better informed,” the Irishman wrote.

While working as a Fox News cameraman in Ukraine on Monday, Mr Zakrzewski was killed by Russian shelling.

The photographer (55) died alongside Ukrainian journalist and producer, Oleksandra Kuvshynova, after the vehicle they were travelling in with reporter Benjamin Hall was struck by incoming fire, according to the US broadcaster.


Mr Zakrzewski attended St Conleth's College in Ballsbridge in Dublin and was part of the class of 1984. Twenty years after he had left, Mr Zakrzewski wrote in the school's yearbook that he had been working as a freelance cameraman for many years, mainly in foreign news.

He said he had covered conflicts in Asia, the Middle East and Africa and it was a job that suited his personality - "travel, adventure, foreign news and seeing humanity at work".

“My job as a cameraman is simply to inform the general public so that they can put pressure on politicians to implement change in these wonderful countries,” he said.

“It’s difficult to explain the attraction to this way of life, but when you experience the emotional roller coaster of war, both positive and negative, as a cameraman I feel I have a duty to tell their story.

Mr Zakrzewski wrote that for those who thought working as a cameraman was “all about glamour” and one big, long extended holiday, “well you’re in for a shock when you arrive at your destination”.

“It’s long days and nights; no 35-hour week in this business. 400 kilos of equipment has to be carried everywhere and keeping track of all the cases is the hardest part,” he said.

“You lose one case and the whole transmission process stops. Every checkpoint has to be negotiated. I always carry lots of cigarettes, as this is the unofficial check point currency.”

Mr Zakrzewski said though the job could be exhausting, “there is nothing more rewarding than experiencing the smiles, hospitality and camaraderie of these people”.

“When you think you have seen the worst excesses of man’s inhumanity to man you realise the strength of the human spirit,” he said.

“There are the kids laughing as they see their image on the monitor, families who share with you the little food they have and the countless cups of chai and conversations about conflict, politics, religions, cultural differences and life in general.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times