The first pictures Marinovich took of a news event were of Archbishop Desmond Tutu when he led a church service in downtown Johannesburg in 1985 to protest the State of Emergency. His interest in photojournalism did not develop any further then, as he left the country within months to avoid doing extended military service. He made his way to Botswana's northern border, befriended SWAPO guerillas and discovered an interest in how people live under political extremis. After returning to South Africa, he got a job as a guide with a hiking and safari company where he taught himself to do travel writing and photography. He then began stringing for Johannesburg Newspapers as a photographer and sub-editing part-time at the Financial Mail.
South Africa was about to undergo a massive change, and in the Vaal and Reef townships that meant violent upheavals. Despite never having covered `hard news' before, the increasingly disturbing reports drew him towards covering them. And in August 1990, he went to Soweto's Nancefield hostel, where a battle between African National Congress and Inkatha supporters had just ended. He took his pictures of a brutal murder to the Sunday Times and to The Associated Press and started stringing for AP. His photographs of the slaying of a man would later win him a series of awards such as the Pulitzer Prize (spot news) and several others.
He had begun to work regularly for the AP, Newsweek, Time, the New York Times, as well as local magazines and newspapers. He also visited the Yugoslav republics as first Croatia achieved its bloody independence and then as Bosnia struggled to its own patchwork destiny.
In 1994 The Star's chief photographer Ken Oosterbroek and Marinovich were shot during clashes in Tokoza Township - Ken died instantly and Marinovich was wounded severely. Later that year, the United Nations awarded him `Recognition for Services to Humanity.' After his recovery, he returned to documenting the changes in society, as well as traveling to Angola, Bosnia, Chechnya, India, Israel, Rwanda and Zaire on news and feature assignments. In 1996 he took up the post of Chief Photographer for the Associated Press, in Jerusalem, where he ran the photo operation until mid-1997. He returned to South Africa to freelance for Time, the New York Times, Life, The Guardian, Der Spiegel, et al; but mostly to concentrate on writing a non-fiction book about the hostel war and the road to democracy.
He is now once again concentrating on documentary work in both stills and film, with several documentaries run by SABC and eTV.
"In this time of instant news and the desire for quick answers, I want to find ways of looking longer and deeper at people and their environments, of exploring the complexities rather than simplifying issues to fit into one picture, one paragraph."
- 'Somalia' 1992 (Johannesburg
- 'Croatia' 1993 (Johannesburg)
- 'Bosnia & Croatia' 1993 (United Nations New York)
- 'blank___Architecture, apartheid and after' (1999 Rotterdam, The Netherlands; Berlin 2000; Johannesburg 2000/20001)
- 'AIDS' 2000 (Johannesburg)
- 'The Bang-Bang Club' (with Joao Silva). Heinneman UK, 2000; Basic Books USA 2000, Grijalbo Spain 2001.
- 'A Man's Journey to Simple Abundance' (a collection of essays). Scribner USA, 2000.
- Pulitzer Prize for spot news, 1991
- Leica Award for excellence 1990
- Visa d'Or, Scoop Award (France) 1990
- Overseas Press Club 1991
- United Nations award of Recognition for Services to Humanity, 1994
- Runner up to Pulitzer twice (1992 and 1993)
- Mondi Award for Magazine Photography (1995)