Photographers' Blog

Burning Together

Black Rock Desert, Nevada

By Jim Urquhart

For the fourth year in a row I have found myself spending a week in – the heat and dust in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada north of Reno – surrounded by over 65,000 people attending the Burning Man Festival.

At this point I feel I am starting to get an idea of how to handle myself out here. It is a tough environment to work in. You have to bring in all your supplies to live and work with. This includes all your food and water for a week. Nothing is sold in Burning Man outside of ice and coffee. Your transportation options are pretty limited to mainly foot or bicycle.

The art installation Pulse & Bloom is seen during the Burning Man 2014 "Caravansary" arts and music festival in the Black Rock Desert of Nevada

In past years I have camped with other photographers but this year I brought along my wife Dayna to share the experience. When I’ve come home reeking of body odor and failure she has always asked me what it is like to be here. I’ve shown her photos and tried to explain it but I always feel like my explanations fall short in explaining the whole experience.

She has handled the experience like a pro and was even able to get past the first 24-hour shock in the city, that includes not only being overwhelmed with the sights and sounds and the unusual characters but also getting hit by a biker at night with no lights on.

“I thought it was just a bunch of free-loving hippies doing drugs and alcohol, but it is not,” Dayna said.

Circus animals of Mexico City

Mexico City, Mexico

By Henry Romero

When I was a child back in Colombia I used to go to the circus every New Year’s Eve with my parents. It was always a special moment. I remember the lights, the clowns, the acrobats and the beautiful animals performing tricks that made us laugh and gaze at them in awe.

A tiger jumps through a ring of fire during a show at the Atayde Hermanos Circus in Mexico City August 8, 2014. Mexico City's government overwhelmingly passed a law on June 2014, which imposed stiff penalties of up to $60,000 on circuses in the capital that use animals such as lions, camels and horses in their performances. Circuses have one year to comply with the ruling. Picture taken August 8, 2014. REUTERS/Henry Romero (MEXICO - Tags: ANIMALS POLITICS SOCIETY)

But that was some 40 years ago and now, although I still like the acrobats and clowns at the circus, I’m not so sure about seeing the animals perform any more.  

I’ve never taken my own kids to a circus with animals. I just don’t see the point of looking at a tiger that has been coached to jump through a burning ring, or an elephant sitting like a person, or a monkey dressed in a tiny outfit. In my personal opinion, it sends the wrong message to our children about respecting animals.

Seven siblings in China

Jinhua, China

By William Hong

Even after I set out to visit his family, the story of Yang Hongnian and his seven children sounded unbelievable to me. As I stood in front of his makeshift house, which is just 20 meters square, I still wasn’t sure it could be true.

Yang Hongnian and Le Huimin's children drink outside their house in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, August 7, 2014. Migrant worker Yang, 47, his wife Le, and their seven children share a 20-square-metre makeshift  house on the outskirts of Jinhua, and live on around 3000-4000 yuan ($486.8-$649) which Yang earns from working at a construction site. Except for one daughter Le had with her ex-husband, the couple have given birth to six children in 10 years. REUTERS/William Hong (CHINA - Tags: SOCIETY) CHINA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN CHINA

The children played around as I waited for Yang to finish work so that he could be interviewed. Eventually, he walked into the dimly lit space with a tired face and a lighted cigarette. The children rushed and surrounded him. Suddenly the already cramped house was completely full.

Yang Hongnian, 47, smokes after lunch at home in Jinhua, Zhejiang province, August 7, 2014. REUTERS/William Hong

Yang and his wife Le Huimin have had six children together over the past ten years, in addition to a daughter of Le’s from a previous marriage.

A moment of stillness

Ferguson, Missouri
By Adrees Latif

A man is doused with milk and sprayed with mist after being hit by an eye irritant from security forces trying to disperse demonstrators protesting against the shooting of unarmed black teen Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 20, 2014. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

I was on holiday and far away from Ferguson, Missouri, when 18-year-old Michael Brown was shot dead by a policeman in the town.

The killing of this unarmed black teenager on August 9 sparked huge protests, and by the time I arrived the demonstrations had been going for well over a week.

Before I got there, clashes between protesters and police had been intense, with tear gas being fired at demonstrators, some of whom let fly rocks, bottles and more. But when I got to Ferguson late evening on August 19, the unrest had started to calm down.

Brief encounter with a fleeing Yazidi

Fishkhabour, Iraq

By Youssef Boudlal

I remember the scene well. It was the day that I arrived at the Iraqi-Syrian border crossing of Fishkhabour.

With shocked, sunburnt faces, men, women and children in dirt-caked clothes were struggling in temperatures of over 45 degrees Celsius (113 Fahrenheit), waiting patiently for local Kurdish aid.

At first, I focused my camera on a group of women sitting on the ground, but when I turned away I saw this little girl.

Reliving the past

Colchester, Britain

By Luke MacGregor

How does one illustrate the centenary of a war that changed global history?

There is no way to truly relive or re-experience what people went through a whole century ago. The only thing I could think of was to try and draw a revealing comparison between people’s lives then and now.

Custom silicone technician Corin Watts  as Lance Corporal Corin Watts of the Kings Royal Rifle Corps with the Rifles Living History Society participates in a rifle drill whilst recreating life as a First World War soldier at the Colchester Military Tournament in Colchester, eastern England  July 6, 2014. Corin became interested in World War One when as a child on the bus he would pass the statue of 'the driver' on the Royal Artillery Monument by Charles Sergeant Jagger, because of its size and its imposing nature it used to scare him, but provoked him to ask questions about the Great War and to learn more. He started re-enacting for that reason too. Of his fellow re-enactors he says "I like the people, its an odd community re-enactment, they are the most bizarre but at the same time most grounded and down to earth people you'd ever meet".   REUTERS/Luke MacGregor  (BRITAIN)

Custom silicone technician Corin Watts works on a prosthetic partial hand he is making at the London Prosthetic Centre in Kingston -Upon-Thames southwest London August 12, 2014. REUTERS/Luke MacGregor

I contacted a group of historical re-enactors who recreate the lives of soldiers in the Great War and attended some museum open days with them, watching as they publicly demonstrated various drills and period artifacts. But I wanted to go further than just seeing their uniforms. I wanted to show an interesting similarity between these men and the soldiers from 100 years before.

The men who served in World War One came from a vast variety of backgrounds; from bakers to bankers, salesmen to solicitors. Many of those who joined up were just school leavers. If they were fit enough and not too old, then they were sent to the front line.

Covering the Ferguson unrest

Ferguson, Missouri
By Mario Anzuoni
 
At 6:30 a.m. on Monday, August 11 my phone rang.
 
I was told to pack my riot gear and head to Ferguson, a suburb of St. Louis in Missouri, to cover unrest that had broken out there following the fatal shooting of an unarmed black teenager by a police officer.

A makeshift memorial is pictured where black teenager Michael Brown was shot to death by police over the weekend in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014. Police said Brown, 18, was shot in a struggle with a gun in a police car but have not said why Brown was in the car. At least one shot was fired during the struggle and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car, police said. But a witness to the shooting interviewed on local media has said that Brown had been putting his hands up to surrender when he was killed. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the racially charged case and St. Louis County also is investigating. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)

The situation in Ferguson was fluid and extremely tense, especially around a convenience store that had been looted and burned over the weekend. Minutes away from where the shooting took place, this store had become the epicenter of the protest.

A destroyed QuikTrip store is pictured in the background as demonstrators hold signs while protesting the death of black teenager Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri August 12, 2014. The QuikTrip store was burned during rioting that followed a vigil for Brown, according to local media. Police said Brown, 18, was shot in a struggle with a gun in a police car but have not said why Brown was in the car. At least one shot was fired during the struggle and then the officer fired more shots before leaving the car, police said. But a witness to the shooting interviewed on local media has said that Brown had been putting his hands up to surrender when he was killed. The FBI has opened a civil rights investigation into the racially charged case and St. Louis County also is investigating.  REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni  (UNITED STATES - Tags: CRIME LAW)
 
I understood the dynamics of the unrest quite quickly. During the day people would gather peacefully by the convenience store and everything looked and felt relatively under control.
 
There were families, young kids and even a man who, despite his 92 years, was holding signs in the middle of the street, joining in with the demonstration.

From central banker to Islamic king

Kano, Nigeria

By Joe Penney

Last year Lamido Sanusi wore pin stripe suits and a colorful array of bow ties to work, and his job consisted mostly of managing interest rates and keeping inflation under control.

Today, he sports long flowing gowns and a white veil over his face, while his daily activities include reciting the Quran and blessing visitors who bow before his feathered slippers.

The Emir of Kano Muhammadu Sanusi II at the palace in Kano

Sanusi was crowned Muhammadu Sanusi II, the 14th Emir of Kano in June, taking over from Ado Abdullahi Bayero after his death. Reuters visited his palace, an elaborately decorated place within the historic walled city, last month. He is surrounded at all times by their court and bodyguards, who wear brightly colored headwraps and babban riga, or big gowns.

Shooting the supermoon

Mosta, Malta

By Darrin Zammit Lupi

Having missed the opportunity to photograph the supermoon in July, I was determined not to do so again for the big celestial event on August 10. I spent a long time researching locations and angles to get a dramatic picture, and settled on the iconic cathedral in Mdina, Malta’s ancient capital city.

The supermoon rises over the cathedral in Mdina, Malta's ancient capital city, in the centre of the island, August 10, 2014. The astronomical event occurs when the moon is closest to the Earth in its orbit, making it appear much larger and brighter than usual.

Using a newly-purchased iPhone app, I could work out precisely where and when the moon would appear between the church steeples and the best position to photograph the moment.  

As the appointed time drew nearer, I began to feel nervous – what if I hadn’t used the app properly and messed up the calculations?  I joked to a photographer friend, who had joined me for the evening, that if I got it wrong I might actually transform into a werewolf (part of my surname, Lupi, is the Italian word for wolves).

Singing from the heart

Beijing, China

By Jason Lee

Every night from 7pm until around midnight, anyone in Beijing who craves a bit of music can go and enjoy an “open-air concert” in the southeast of the city.

Street musician Zhang Mingyuan sings during his daily performance at a square outside a shopping mall in Beijing

The singer, Zhang Mingyuan, isn’t part of a famous music label and his performances are just held on a street corner. But even so, the warm atmosphere that he creates in the chilly night air seldom disappoints.

Street musician Zhang Mingyuan relaxes his eyes during a break at his daily performance at a square outside a shopping mall in Beijing

Many of Zhang’s songs are about a happy family life, but his own childhood seems to have been far from content. Born in China’s northeast Heilongjiang province, Zhang said that his father had depression and his mother left him when Zhang was 11 years old. His father left later and Zhang said he was abandoned.