How to squeeze a decade into 100 pictures
Reuters’ photographers shoot around 1,500 pictures a day, that’s 10,500 pictures a week, 547,500 a year. Times that by ten and you have some idea of the task ahead of me in selecting just 100 pictures to represent the very best of Reuters’ photography from the past decade.
In order to prevent the sheer scale of the project becoming overwhelming we had to be very clear about what we wanted to portray. Rather than telling the story of the decade we wanted to present the best of Reuters photography of the decade. Happily our photographers have produced many of the defining images of our recent history, so we found that our story was also the decade’s story.
Still the decision on what to include and what not to include was not easy. Conversely, limiting the selection to 100 pictures actually made the task easier. Some pictures stand out and stand the test of time. These shine so brightly over the years that it makes them impossible not to pick.
Cardinals’ vestments are blown by a gust of wind as they arrive for the funeral Mass of Pope John Paul II at St. Peter’s Basilica in the Vatican. REUTERS/Max Rossi
Smoke from the remains of New York’s World Trade Center shrouds lower Manhattan as a lone seagull flies overhead in a photograph taken across New York Harbor from Jersey City, New Jersey September 12, 2001. REUTERS/Ray Stubblebine
As an editor, I’ve had the privilege of looking at Reuters daily production every day for the past seven years. Its been my job to select and highlight the very best of this content, through keywording and packaging. This packaging has created layers on layers of picture ranking that was vital in doing this research. First there are the daily Top Pictures, which are selected and coded by a team of editors. Then there is the daily ‘24 Hours’ package which highlights the top 24 images of the day. From this we make Pictures of the Month, and then Pictures of the Year. In this way all our best content is selected and packaged making big researches far easier. These Top Picture selections also form the building blocks for many Reuters visual projects, from the Our World Now series of books, to multimedia presentations such as Times of Crisis and Bearing Witness.
What went in?
A selection of this kind is never going to please everyone. Inevitably stories get left out, people get forgotten and fantastic images fall by the wayside. But somehow I had to select what I felt were the stories and images that defined the decade. So what went in?
- 9/11 and the ensuing War on Terror obviously dominates the selection. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan covered so bravely by our locally based Iraqi and Afghan photographers’ as well as our established team of war reporters have undoubtedly defined the decade, affecting almost every corner of the globe. Many truly iconic images have been produced in the midst of moments of extreme violence and tension in the course of these ongoing wars.
- Conflict in the Middle East – we have some amazingly talented and dedicated photographers in Israel and the Palestinian territories who over the years have produced consistently outstanding images. Selecting which to include from this region was one of the most difficult tasks.
- Natural Disasters – the Tsunami, Hurricane Katrina, earthquakes in China, Kashmir and Iran. These major disasters, affecting thousands of people, still invoke horror years later.
- Climate change, immigration, economy – issues that will continue to shape the world for the next decade.
- People – George Bush, Michael Phelps, Vladimir Putin, Michael Jackson, Saddam Hussein, Pope John Paul II and Paris Hilton. Politicians became superstars and celebrities reigned.
Some stories were included because they produced such haunting and memorable pictures that they have become part of our consciousness of the decade.
A Russian police officer carries a released baby from the school seized by heavily armed masked men and women in the town of Beslan in the province of North Ossetia near Chechnya, September 2, 2004. REUTERS/Viktor Korotayev
A young Afghan woman shows her face in public for the first time after 5 years of Taliban Sharia law as she waits at a food distribution center in central Kabul November 14, 2001. REUTERS/Yannis Behrakis
A would-be immigrant crawls after his arrival on a makeshift boat on the Gran Tarajal beach in Spain’s Canary Island, May 5, 2006. REUTERS/Juan Medina
A man rinses soot from his face at the scene of a gas pipeline explosion near Nigeria’s commercial capital Lagos December 26, 2006. REUTERS/Akintunde Akinleye
Other images have become world renowned images that will always be associated with Reuters.
Finbarr O’Reilly, a Reuters photographer based in Senegal, won the World Press Photo of the Year 2005, with this picture of a mother and child at an emergency feeding centerin Tahoua, Niger August 1, 2005. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly
Reuters won the Pulitzer Prize for breaking news photography for an Adrees Latif picture of a Japanese videographer killed during a demonstration in Yangon’s city center September 27, 2007. REUTERS/Adrees Latif
Arko Datta a Reuters photographer based in Mumbai, won the World Press Photo of the Year 2004, with this picture of an Indian woman mourning the death of her relative who was killed in the tsunami in Cuddalore December 28, 2004. REUTERS/Arko Datta
A Georgian man cries as he holds the body of his relative after a bombardment in Gori, 80 km (50 miles) from Tbilisi, August 9, 2008. REUTERS/Gleb Garanich
What Went Out
The choice of what not to include was made easier by always asking the question, ‘Will this be relevant in another decade?’ So bearing in mind the competition for space in a 100 picture edit, we said No to Sarah Palin, Bernie Madoff and Dimitry Medvedev in favor of Barack Obama, Vladimir Putin and Ariel Sharon.
SARS made it in favor of Swine Flu, and of all the tragic air crashes that occurred this decade only the iconic picture of a Concorde in flames passed the test.
Flames come out of the Air France Concorde seconds before it crashed in Gonesse near Paris Roissy airport, July 25, 2000. REUTERS/Stringer
My hope is that every picture in this selection will touch, inform and move the viewer in some way, whilst being aware that every other editor would probably have selected a slightly different top 100. I personally have been touched, informed and moved by every picture in this selection and hundreds more that were left out. However there are a couple of images that particularly stand out for me:
A young girl walks with two bags of cold drinking water in Monrovia, Liberia, October 9, 2005. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst
A simple image that sums up many major global issues in those two bags of water held delicately in the girl’s hands.
Military and forensic experts inspect the body of a man who was killed outside a nightclub in the border city of Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, August 31, 2009. REUTERS/Alejandro Bringas
A shocking and stunning image bringing to mind classical religious paintings of the crucifixion. It’s a chilling picture that stays with you, hits you with the same impact every time you see it.
Three women cool off on the beach at Algiers, June 4, 2006. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra
A very painterly, beautiful image showing robed, Muslim women laughing and splashing about in the sea. It’s an image that people of all ages, genders and cultures can relate to in its almost child-like sense of fun and excitement.
As an editor, I’m incredibly lucky to work with hundreds of photographers who every day are witnessing and recording the most important events or our time. This package is a small tribute not just to those photographers whose work is included here, but to all Reuters’ photographers who contribute to a daily file that continually defines the world we live in.
Reuters will be releasing the Pictures of the Decade selection in a series of 10 slideshows showcased on www.reuters.com. On the final day, all 100 pictures will be displayed and we invite readers to comment and vote on their favorite images.
Various forms of the selection have been showcased on websites around the world such as Haaretz, Nettavisen, OE24, Tages Anzeiger, Morgenpost, Hurriyet, La Opinion, Portugal’s Publico, Berner Zeitung, DNA India, Spiegel, Sueddeutsche and FTD.