Kai's Feed
Mar 18, 2014
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Spray Cans and Euros – Graffiti at the European Central Bank

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Frankfurt am Main, Germany

By Kai Pfaffenbach

“Is this legal?”

That was the question I asked myself almost two years ago, when I was walking along the embankment of the River Main in Frankfurt and saw the fence around the new European Central Bank (ECB) headquarters construction site.

Huge works of graffiti were scrawled on the wooden boards. It looked quite professional but I wondered if the ECB had agreed to allow these paintings since their content was both critical and politically provocative.

Aug 17, 2013
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Golden Pictures at World Athletics in Moscow

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So, Friday night was for sure one I wont ever forget: a super one for young shot put sensation David Storl and if I can say an amazing night for me and Germany. It started like so many other nights of athletics I have covered as part of the Reuters photographic team at the World Athletic Championships here in Moscow.

David Storl of Germany competes in the men’s shot put final during the IAAF World Athletics Championships at the Luzhniki stadium in Moscow August 16, 2013. REUTERS/Kai Pfaffenbach

Aug 1, 2013
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Euro in pieces

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Mainz, Germany

By Kai Pfaffenbach

When heavy floods hit parts of eastern and southern Germany two months ago, a few forensic scientists sitting hundreds of miles away in a dry place at their office in Mainz (south-western Germany) knew there would be a flood coming their way as well. Not that wet, not that destructive but also massive. The 13 men and women are members of the money analyzing team of Germany’s Federal reserve, Deutsche Bundesbank, specializing in reconstructing damaged or destroyed bank notes.

Experience from previous floods told them there would be thousands of notes found in private basements, flooded bank safes or cash machines. Those notes need to be reconstructed and, once they have been verified, the Bundesbank transfers the money back to its owners’ account, while the damaged notes will be burned.

Jun 21, 2013
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Between “Jogo bonito” and riots on the streets

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Salvador, Brazil

By Kai Pfaffenbach

Football is the sport I most like to photograph.

Almost everybody in Reuters knows that. When I was assigned to head to Brazil to cover the FIFA Confederations Cup one of my dreams came a little closer: covering a soccer match at Rio’s famous Maracana stadium. After almost two weeks of following the tournament’s group stage matches I haven’t seen the Maracana (that only happens for the final). But I have had the pleasure of traveling in a team of three with my colleagues Jorge Silva and Paulo Whitaker from Brasilia to Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Salvador. The stadiums look great, they are ready for the big event next year, the spectators are as enthusiastic as expected and so far we have seen good games with an outstanding Brazilian superstar Neymar and spectacular overhead kicks from Hulk.

But I have to admit that my attention has been taken away from the stadiums, organization and the games by the huge demonstrations across Brazil. It is very obvious that the people are not happy about how things are happening here and it seems solidarity for the cause is rising.

Feb 19, 2013
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Countdown to Sochi 2014

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Sochi, Russia

By Kai Pfaffenbach

There are a few things you expect as a German photographer from cozy Frankfurt when your boss sends you to cover the test events for the upcoming 2014 Sochi Olympic winter games in Russia.

Will it be heavy snow and cold you have to brave? How difficult will communication be (as I don’t speak Russian)? How will the general feeling of Russians be about Germans a few days after they celebrated the anniversary of their big victory over Hitler’s sixth army in Stalin-(Wolgo)grad during WWII in 1943? Well, after nine days within the 70km (43 mile) perimeter of the 2014 Olympics I can say it is a bit of everything but it is definitely a balancing act between extremes.

Jan 14, 2013
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Eagles without wings

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Oberstdorf, Germany to Bischofshofen, Austria

By Kai Pfaffenbach

For a German sports photographer covering first division Bundesliga soccer, every week between December and the end of January is actually quite boring. While other major leagues (not only in soccer) continue their season, Bundesliga is “off” for four weeks. Although I would normally tend to miss “my“ weekly fix of soccer, I always look forward to the so-called “winter break”. It gives me time to cover one of the sports events I really love to photograph: the four hills ski jumping tournament.

As a young boy watching it on TV, I could never imagine standing on top of such a ski jump. But it was my 14th time this year traveling from Oberstdorf, Germany’s most southern city, where the opening jumping is traditionally held, to Garmisch-Partenkirchen for the “new-year-jumping” on January 1. After those two jumpings in Germany, the tournament convoy rides to Innsbruck in Austria and then the final “epiphany jumping” in Bischofshofen. Four different cities in nine days. Up to 30,000 spectators cheering their heroes when they soar down.

Nov 27, 2012
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Prayers and cheers in Vettelheim

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Heppenheim, southwestern Germany

By Kai Pfaffenbach

To watch a car race on television from a comfortable couch is fun, but to cover a Formula One Grand Prix as a photographer at the track is always thrilling. It is fast, exiting and produces nice pictures (most of the time). As I have covered quite a lot F1 races across Europe over the past 17 years with Reuters, I would never have imagined that my most exciting experience as a photographer in connection with F1 would be the public viewing of the last race of this season.

Germany’s Sebastian Vettel was leading the driver’s ranking 13 points ahead of his Spanish rival Fernando Alonso when the starting lights went green on the Interlagos circuit for the Grand Prix of Brazil in Sao Paulo. More than 2000 people were waiting for that moment in Heppenheim, the hometown of Red Bull driver Vettel, who has won the last two driver championships. The inhabitants of Heppenheim, also fondly known as Vettelheim, were in an easy mood when Vettel got ready in the fourth position on the starting grid, while Alonso started in eighth. Just a few seconds later emotions were turned upside down.

Jun 30, 2012
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Super Mario

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By Kai Pfaffenbach

There were other big names supposed to be the super stars of this Euro 2012 – Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo, Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, Holland’s Robin van Persie or France’s Franck Ribery – they have all flown home by now and before the final between Spain and Italy there is only one guy left who will be recognized as the tournament’s big star: Mario Balotelli from Italy.

What a story. Adopted from African parents when he was three, brought up by Italian foster parents and now one of the most recognized strikers playing for England’s champions Manchester City and the man who brought Italy into the final with his two striking goals against an agonized German squad in the semi-final.

Jun 24, 2012
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On the road at Euro 2012

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By Kai Pfaffenbach

As a news photographer working for Reuters in Germany it is quite normal to spend some time in your car. It is not unusual to drive between 3000-5000km per month. So I expected nothing different when coming to Poland for the Euro 2012 covering the soccer matches in Warsaw and Gdansk. During our tournament planning we agreed on traveling in a big van with our team of three photographers and one technician. That seemed a lot easier than spending more time getting all the equipment to an airport than actually flying.

Four times we had to hit the road towards Gdansk and back to Warsaw. About 360km one way shouldn’t last longer than 3 to 4 hours. “It’s about the ride from Frankfurt to Munich to cover some soccer at Allianz Arena. Entering the highway in Frankfurt and three hours later you take the exit in front of the stadium”, I thought to myself. As a matter of fact our trips were different and we experienced quite a few new things on our journey – everything in an absolutely positive way. Even though there’s not much of a highway to begin with, we had a lot to see. In retrospect we divided the trip in three parts.

Part 1: the strawberry and cherry alley – not one or two people were offering self-harvested fruits here, but dozens. They displayed the freshly picked fruits on the hood of their cars, sitting next to it under a sunshade waiting for customers. Of course we took the opportunity, made a good deal and used the strawberries for a refreshing milkshake after coming back. Some refreshment was needed as the drive on the country road is somewhat challenging as well. Some Polish drivers are very “creative” when using the space of only two lanes. It is nothing special if you face three cars driving towards you next to each other. Thank god that didn’t lead directly into the next part of our journey….

Jun 12, 2012
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A different approach to Euro 2012

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By Kai Pfaffenbach


Being a Reuters photographer means you travel a lot. War zones, disasters or political visits are on your list. By far the most exiting events – for me – are still the big sports events. 2012 offers a nice variety and the Euro 2012 soccer tournament will be an excellent warm up for the Olympic games to follow shortly in London.

Although I’ve followed the German team in previous tournaments this time it’s a different approach for me to cover the tournament. With my colleagues Pascal Lauener from Switzerland, Austria’s chief photographer Leo Foeger and our technician Gilles de Queiros from France I’m covering the games in Warsaw and Gdansk. With the complicated history of Poland’s and Germany’s relationship in mind I started this trip with different expectations and was wondering if our Polish hosts had any prejudices against Germans. Let’s not forget the first shots of World War II were fired at Gdansk (then Danzig) in September, 1939.