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Aug 12, 2013
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The parents left behind

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Warsaw, Poland

By Peter Andrews

I remember my mother taking me to the airport on June 10, 1981. In theory, everyone knew I was leaving for three weeks, but both of us really knew that I would not be coming back. I was nineteen at the time and wanted to see a different world, a world outside the so called Iron Curtain.

My mother didn’t show sadness but I could see tears in her eyes when she said good bye to me. I saw her twice in ten years. Once after four years, when she visited my new home, Canada, and later in Germany when the Berlin Wall was coming down. Our contact was scarce. In those days, it was very difficult to call out of Poland, especially after martial law was introduced. Later, when martial law was lifted, it was a bit easier, but still there were only land lines. No mobile phones, no Internet, no Skype – only written letters put inside envelopes, with a postage stamp and sent from the post office. It was only when the Soviet Union collapsed and the so-called evil empire ceased to exist that I was able to see her freely. It is only when you are not able to see your parents often that one notices how age works on people.

Jul 23, 2012
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On Instagram

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By Peter Andrews

Instagram is mainly a tool for young people to take pictures and catch up on things; situations that they missed out on, either because they weren’t yet born or because they just weren’t there.

It is a fascinating tool, however it’s not real photography, it’s an illusion. Listening to an explanation on what Instagram is, it appears that anyone can become Ansel Adams (who I studied at the Fine Arts faculty 30 years ago). Just with a touch of technology one can skip all the creativity that we had to develop or study for and just pick up an iPhone and become an artist. One may look at it as the end of photography (and most photographers who make a living by taking pictures would say that). But if you look at it from a different point of view, it is the beginning of a new era in photography and photojournalism as this global tool turns image-taking and sharing into a worldwide diary of everyday life.

May 28, 2012
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At home with Hercules

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By Peter Andrews

When asked which Polish athlete has a chance at the London Olympics I immediately thought of the shot put champion Tomasz Majewski.

For those who have never seen Tomasz in real life, it can be a bit intimidating. I have always considered myself tall at 192cm (6 feet, 3 inches), but when I first met Tomasz I suddenly felt very small. With a height of 2.4 meters (7 feet 10 inches) and weighing 140 kg (308 pounds), Tomasz is overpowering. He reminded me of Hercules with his long dark hair up in a pony tail. He also has a nice warm smile he puts on easily, so being around him is relaxed and easy right from the first handshake.

May 15, 2012
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Tribute to Danilo Krstanovic

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Last Friday our long time Sarajevo photographer Danilo Krstanovic passed away unexpectedly. He was buried on Monday in Sarajevo.

Danilo began working for Reuters at the start of the siege of Sarajevo. His images were extraordinary and touching. There are many photographers who would brag about their war adventures, about what they did and how brave they were, but not Danilo. He would quietly go to take his pictures, endangering his life on a daily basis for four years. He always came back with amazing images, never complaining or boasting about any situation he was in.

Mar 19, 2012
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Soccer SWAT team

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By Peter Andrews

Through my Polish police contacts, I learned that members of various SWAT teams and the border guards would hold a special training exercise in the town of Zamosc. The exercise was conducted as part of preparations by the Polish special forces leading up to the EURO 2012 soccer tournament, to be held in Poland and Ukraine this summer. This training event was to be observed by various representatives from different countries.

As I arrived at the military training ground, I realized that some of the instructors were my old friends whom I have known for as many as eighteen years. It helped me immensely to be accepted by people who were being trained. The forces were divided into three teams of SWAT and border guards being trained on different public transport vehicles, in various techniques of approaching a hijacked bus followed by mastering the techniques of entering and rescuing hostages from inside the vehicle.

Aug 17, 2011
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Quiet moment of glory

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By Peter Andrews

I woke up on the morning of August 19, 1991 after staying at my friends’ apartment in Warsaw. I was on my way back from holidays in Canada and had just sold my car before departing to the Soviet Union to start my new job at Reuters in Moscow. Previously, I worked for the Associated Press in the then-Soviet Republics of Lithuania and Georgia as well as in Moscow itself where Reuters’ former Chief Picture Editor Gary Kemper and Moscow Chief Photographer Frederique Lengaigne recruited me for Reuters.

A neighbor stopped me on the staircase saying: “Do you know what happened in Moscow?”. There was a military coup and the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev was overthrown by Soviet Vice President Gennady Yanayev. It seemed impossible to me, I had just left Moscow two months earlier. Nevertheless, I immediately arranged the first available plane ticket to Moscow. The plane was almost empty and the only people on board were my colleagues from Poland with whom I had spent the previous year working with in Vilnius. The atmosphere on the plane was tense, but full of excitement. The change was happening in front of our eyes, but not the way we were expecting.

May 31, 2011
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“Welcome to Sarajevo again”

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WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

It was June 28, 1995, when Sean Maguire and I arrived in Sarajevo for another few months of covering the conflict in the Bosnian capital.

The drive was uneventful as we left Split on the Adriatic Sea and drove overnight over Mount Igman. As always, Sean drove the car. Upon arrival in Sarajevo we went to sleep to be woken up by huge blasts. Two aircraft bombs attached to four rockets were launched from the ground from Serbian positions towards Sarajevo. One of them hit the TV station where all the local and foreign TV crews were working out of and the second an apartment block nearby.