Photographers' Blog

Abandoned on the border

Suruc, Turkey

By Murad Sezer

A new crossing point was set up along the Turkish-Syrian border last week by the government of Turkey, where humanitarian agencies and the Red Crescent offered first aid and registered the new arrivals.

The frontier was normally a hive of activity, with wailing children and families desperately trying to carry whatever they could manage across the dusty terrain. Heavily armed security officers patrolled the border and police would search bags before the refugees passed into Turkey.

When they arrived on the other side, some would sit on their luggage looking lost, others would scramble onto buses or trucks, which would leave three or four times a day to ferry people to refugee camps on the Turkish side.

On this particular day, I went in the morning to check how many refugees were registering but, to my surprise, the refugee collection didn’t start; the dust swept area was eerily silent, deserted except for a few policemen and the abandoned cars of Syrian refugees visible through the barbed wire on the border.

A cradle left behind by Syrian Kurdish refugees lies at the Turkish-Syrian border near Suruc in Sanliurfa province

Bewildered, I started to look around me. My eyes fell on an empty baby carriage, and I thought: “How is it possible for someone to leave behind such a basic, but important, thing for a baby?”

An American rebel in Ukraine

Yasynuvata, Ukraine

By Marko Djurica

He stood beside a jeep, wearing the Russian army’s tight, black boots and trousers, that most of the insurgents wear, and a green military jumper. A small compass and large hunting knife in a sheath hung on his belt, an AK47 was slung over his shoulder. He looked straight at me through a balaclava. As I approached, he seemed to get bigger and bigger.

 An American who calls himself "Hunter" holds his rifle as he walks through a field near the town of Yasynuvata, in eastern Ukraine

I was in Ukraine again, where the West and Russia have taken opposing sides in a separatist war with the pro-Russians in the East.

I had heard a few weeks before that the pro-Russian Vostok battalion had an American siding with the insurgents. Our team had repeatedly tried to get permission to do a story about him but we hadn’t had any success. However, during an assignment in Donetsk, I finally met the right people to allow me access on the condition that I would only take still pictures and not film him.

Clooney gets hitched

Venice, Italy

By Alessandro Bianchi

I was waiting aboard a taxi boat moored in front of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice for four hours waiting to photograph U.S. actor George Clooney at the gala dinner ahead of his wedding ceremony. Unfortunately, about 30 taxi boats full of reporters, photographers and the paparazzi had exactly the same idea.

U.S. actor Clooney and his wife Alamuddin stand in a water taxi on the Grand Canal in Venice

At around 6 o’clock in the evening, George jumped on his personal taxi boat “Amore” to go to the Aman Hotel and the taxi fleet swarmed around his boat to take the best picture.

Working on a taxi boat is hard at the best of times, as the waves can make it unstable and you can lose your balance, but the job was made even more difficult by the fact that Clooney’s boat was surrounded by others rented by the media.

The thrill of the fair

Munich, Germany

By Michael Dalder

Many of us have been invited to wedding ceremonies and receptions in our time, as guests or even as photographers. One Saturday, at five o’clock in the morning, my colleague Lukas Barth and I prepared our camera gear to photograph a wedding party, with around six million guests.

I’m not sure how many of them were aware of the fact that the party they were attending – “the Oktoberfest” – originally celebrated and honoured the marriage of the Bavarian Crown Prince Ludwig and Therese von Sachsen-Hildburghausen in 1810.

A gingerbread heart is pictured during the 181st Oktoberfest in Munich

Almost 200 years later, the celebration still exists in the form of the world’s biggest beer festival, a place where tradition meets madness. The fairground has been called “Theresienwiese”, or “the Wies’n” by experienced visitors and, despite the name “Oktoberfest”, the festival always starts on the penultimate Saturday of September.

Fleeing Islamic State

Suruc, Turkey
By Murad Sezer

Tens of thousands of Kurdish Syrians have fled Islamic State and flocked to the Turkish border. Most of them are from the Syrian border town Kobani and its surrounding villages, where the group’s fighters have launched attacks, but other refugees have travelled from further away.

A Kurdish Syrian refugee waits for transport during a sand storm on the Turkish-Syrian border near the southeastern town of Suruc

They arrive at the border, tired, miserable and desperate for water, but many have to wait days before they are allowed to cross into Turkey.

There is an increasing accommodation problem in the small Turkish border towns, which have very little space for so many refugees, but if they can be accommodated, border officials will allow them to enter in groups. Some lucky refugees have relatives in Turkey with whom they can stay.

Becoming a man

Bungoma, Kenya

By Noor Khamis

As eastern Africa had uncharacteristically fallen silent, I decided to travel over 500 kilometres to western Kenya as schools had just closed and so month-long circumcision rituals had taken centre stage.

The rituals, which are observed in public, represent the annual rites of passage into adulthood for boys aged sixteen and below. The Bukusu community, a sub-tribe of the Luhya tribe, has strongly stuck to such traditions.

A Bukusu boy waits outside his uncle's home for the circumcision ritual in Bungoma

The ceremonies normally take place in August, to give the adolescents enough time to heal before school resumes.

Reburying the dead

Guatemala City, Guatemala

By Jorge Dan Lopez

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

The clock had only just struck seven in the morning and the sound of heavy hammers pounding cement had already begun to interrupt the silence in Guatemala City’s General Cemetery. As the sun’s first rays dipped the graveyard in light, they cast shadows on the wall from exhumers.

A grave cleaner uses a maul to break the cover of a crypt as a fellow grave cleaner works standing on a ladder during exhumation works at the Cemetery General in Guatemala City January 29, 2014.  If a lease on a grave has expired or not been paid, grave cleaners will break open the crypts to remove and rebury the bodies.  REUTERS/Jorge Dan Lopez

The men were opening and cleaning graves after people had stopped paying the lease or the lease had expired. The bodies, or what was left of them, were pulled out one by one by the grave cleaners and placed in clear, plastic bags.

The team began breaking the crypts’ lids and bricks. After a few minutes, I glimpsed the corner of a rotten casket and, eventually, I got a distinctive view of skin, bones, and an almost-preserved face, grimacing indescribably. But the grimace did not scare or repulse me; it reminded me of the ephemerality of life.

Independent Island

Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

By Paul Hackett

I had never had the privilege of visiting the Island of Eigg, located about ten miles off the Scottish mainland, but its rich and varied wildlife, beautiful scenery and its residents’ attempts to become self sufficient, made it somewhat famous.

A cow stands on Lag Bay beach, the island of Rum is seen in the background, on the island of Eigg, Inner Hebrides, Scotland

The idea of sustainability is something that concerns us all, and I was interested to see first-hand if it worked on such a small scale.

The first thing I noticed when I stepped off the ferry and onto the island was Donna, a local busker, playing her pipes on the quayside with her dog singing along beside her. It was a comical sight and quite lovely to arrive to the sound of the bagpipes.

Still missing – MH370

Beijing, China

By Kim Kyung-Hoon

Almost six months have passed since the Malaysian Airlines MH370 disappeared. Although authorities concluded that the plane crashed in the remote Indian Ocean and lost all the passengers, many family members refuse to accept that conclusion. They hope that they are still alive.

Zhiliang, whose fiance was onboard Malaysian Airlines Fight MH370 which disappeared on March 8th, is silhouetted at an empty house which he had planned to decorate with her for their marriage, after he shows the house during an interview with Reuters in Tianjin, August 26, 2014.      REUTERS/Kim Kyung-Hoon

However, public interest towards this incident has faded, so I decided to record what these family members are still going through and shed light on this mysterious incident once again.

I thought that portrait-style pictures showing family members together with the missing passengers’ mementos would tell a story.

At war for the trees

Centro do Guilherme, Brazil

By Lunae Parracho

A small army of Ka’apor warriors marched into the depths of the Amazon forest in northeast Maranhao state, with me in tow. This was one day of a weeklong operation to protect and survey the Alto Turiacu Indian reserve, which has been invaded by illegal loggers for years.

Ka'apor Indian warriors hike during a jungle expedition to search for and expel loggers in the Alto Turiacu Indian territory. REUTERS/Lunae Parracho

Ka’apor leader Irakadju told me how they had sought help from the Brazilian Army when they were in the region last year, but they had left, unwilling to ruin their jeeps and possibly afraid of the loggers.

“We got tired of waiting for the government,” Irakadju said, while pushing through vines, branches and thorns.

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