Tito Meriño: the wisdom of a sports photographer
By Carmen Sánchez Camacho
The ethics necessary of a photojournalist and the ability to report events based on lively and communicative photos are qualities that suit José (Tito) Meriño Céspedes very well. This photographer, born in the capital, got started in the field in the 1980s while doing General Military Service and on assignment in Angola.
When El Habanero was founded in 1987, he started working in that newspaper as a photojournalist until 2004, when he moved to the Latin American news agency Prensa Latina. There he works both nationally and abroad for its different publications: newspapers, magazines, web page and the image bank fotospl.com.
Tito, as everyone calls him, has used his mastery of the technique and the theoretical knowledge he has acquired to share his experience through conferences and workshops on the importance of photography in the press.
About this, he says: “In my professional life I have always strived to improve myself and in return pass on my knowledge; I have been fortunate to stand in front of an audience and demonstrate my skills. Many young people call me teacher. I don’t mind, but I am not a teacher. I just share what I have learned about sports photography, a subject I am passionate about.”
“As a press photojournalist for many years, I am experienced and interested in various journalistic genres,” he explains, “but what most attracts me is sports photography, a tougher speciality in which to capture images.”
“Achieving good shots in this area depends on many elements that must be considered in fractions of a second. It is exciting to have to make constant changes in the camera’s parameters and even more, to achieve the decisive moment, in addition to the wisdom that a sports photographer must have, and then see the result; I enjoy it as though it were the birth of a child.”
José Meriño Céspedes has taken part in different contests where he has been multi-awarded, among them: the “González Barros” National Sports Photography Award 2013 and 2019 and awards in the Union of Journalists of Cuba’s Provincial Journalism Contest “Juan Candelario Bacallao” for Havana province in 1994, 1996, 2000, 2001, 2003 and 2004.
“I have participated in many contests, perhaps it is a way of measuring myself, he comments, although the contests are not always a measurement, because in many cases you have to take different factors into account, for example, the presentation of the other participants’ work, the jury’s composition and opinion, among others. Sometimes I go to recreate myself and dust off my files, but to tell the truth I like to win.”
Being a juror is a source of pride and a great responsibility, thinks Tito: “When one acts as a professional juror, ethics must prevail, I am one of those who never looks at the names of those who sent the work, instead I look first at all the materials, eliminating them until I get to the best, and then I look for the name of the author; in our world we all know each other and favoring one or the other is something that makes me feel bad later. I like to be fair when I am carrying out that function.”
“Future plans: to continue to improve professionally and to be ready to carry out any task.” This is Tito, a simple man, who every day, camera in hand, does what he enjoys the most, being a professional with the lens and thus demonstrating the importance of photography as a means of communication, in teaching, instructing and informing society.