Photographers' Blog

Decline of the Catskills

Catskills, New York

By Carlo Allegri

Dubbed the “Borscht Belt,” in its heyday the Catskills was a bustling vacation resort region popular with middle and working-class New Yorkers of Jewish origin. Situated about 100 miles north of New York City, people flocked to the area to escape the stifling summer heat of the city. Many families would relocate to the area for several months, with men visiting their wives and children on the weekends.

An abandoned house is pictured in the Catskills region of New York

Thousands of people were drawn to the area by hotels like Grossinger’s and the Concord, once the largest resort in the United States, which along with hundreds of other smaller resorts, hotels and colonies dotted the landscape.

An abandoned resort hotel is pictured in the Catskills region of New York

Legendary comedians such as Joan Rivers, Woody Allen and Rodney Dangerfield performed at and visited the area’s hotels, which became famous as a proving ground for acts.  The area also provided the setting for the 1987 film Dirty Dancing.

The interior of an abandoned business is pictured in the Catskills region of New York

Cheap airfares, the popularity of seaside vacations and the decline of anti-Semitism had a huge impact on the tourism industry in the region. By the 1970s the area was a shadow of its 1960s peak, just one large resort hotel remained in the 1980s, and by the 1990s it too had fallen into bankruptcy.

An abandoned business is pictured in the Catskills region of New York

Some areas in the Catskills have become ghost towns, but the area’s former glory is evident, the size of the hulking buildings a testament to the number of people that visited the region. Dilapidated theaters, stores and restaurants stand abandoned, but amid the desolation there is still beauty and a quiet majesty.

Living on minimum wage

Delores Leonard is a 28 year-old single mother raising two daughters Erin, 6, and Emmarie, 8, on the South Side of Chicago. She’s been a fast food worker at a McDonald’s restaurant for 7 years and makes $8.25 an hour. It’s her only source of work income and she’s never made more than minimum wage working at the drive-thru window.

Delores Leonard helps her daughter Erin with her homework at the breakfast table.  REUTERS/Jim Young

I have covered several organized protests by fast food workers over the last year in Chicago, but wanted to take a closer look at how people balance their lives and finances as a worker living on minimum wage. I arrive at her house before sunrise and she is already up getting breakfast for her two girls, helping daughter Erin with her homework and getting them dressed for school.

Delores Leonard helps her daughter Erin with her homework during breakfast.

Delores walks them to school before jumping on the first of two buses she takes to get to work, about an hour away at a McDonald’s restaurant in the Hyde Park neighborhood; only about a mile from President Obama’s personal residence.

A rescue at sea

Mediterranean Sea

By Darrin Zammit Lupi

A barely perceptible dot on the horizon, disappearing every few seconds behind the rolling waves, a rubber dinghy carrying a group of migrants is very easily missed if you don’t know where to look.

Handout photo shows a group of 104 sub-Saharan Africans on board a rubber dinghy wait to be rescued by the NGO Migrant Offshore Aid Station some 25 miles off the Libyan coast

The Migrant Offshore Aid Station (MOAS) ship Phoenix set off from the Italian island of Lampedusa the night before in the middle of a lightning storm and had, for the past five hours, been making its way towards the dinghy’s last known position.

MOAS, which started operating at the end of August, has to date been involved in the rescue of some 2,200 migrants crossing from Libyan shores. The Malta-based privately funded humanitarian initiative was set up by U.S. citizen Christopher Catrambone and his Italian wife Regina after the October 2013 Lampedusa tragedies, which left hundreds dead. They were inspired by the Pope’s appeal for entrepreneurs to do something tangible to help and to go beyond just donating money.

Arch to Arc – going the distance

London, England

By Neil Hall

The Arch to Arc is billed as the hardest triathlon in the world. It is comprised of a 87 mile run from Marble Arch in London to Dover, a swim across the Channel to Calais in France, finishing with a 180 mile bike ride to the Arc de Triomphe in Paris.

Paul Parrish swims as he takes part in the Arch to Arc triathlon in the channel between England and France

49-year-old charity worker, and recovering alcoholic, Paul Parrish hoped to be the oldest man to complete the event.

Paul Parrish has a meal break during the run of his Arch to Arch triathlon in south London

Parrish felt that training for the event has filled the gaps in his life that drinking left. “Alcoholism is grim … you can’t get much lower,” he said, adding that he looked forwards to celebrating completing the event with a cup of tea.

Space travel and sandwich wrappers

Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan

By Shamil Zhumatov

As a great photographer once put it, “to take a good picture, come closer to the object.” But how on earth could I take a close-up shot of a Soyuz rocket as it blast off amid orange flames? Especially when, to comply with safety requirements, I was in a photography position over a kilometer away from the rocket.

Debris flies after the Soyuz TMA-14M spacecraft carrying the International Space Station crew blasted off from the launch pad at the Baikonur cosmodrome

The answer was to leave a remote camera at the launch pad. This led to the second question, due to technical issues photographers can’t control the remote cameras they leave at the launch pad.  So how would I trigger my camera?

One option, which was used during the launches of U.S. Space Shuttles, was to use a noise detector. But these are not widely used in my part of the world and I had no intention of ordering a complicated new gadget.

Remote Dangers

Incheon, South Korea

By Rob Dawson

To receive messages saying, “Police detained me” and “Running a bit late. Broke my nose,” is not something I expected when editing the Asian Games. With some 10,000 athletes taking part in the 16-day multi-sport competition it was always going to be a challenge to cover such a sporting spectacular, but this was out of the ordinary.

South Korea's Jung celebrates beating Uzbekistan's Turdiev in their Men's Greco-Roman 71 kg gold medal wrestling match during the 2014 Asian Games in Incheon

As a picture editor, I was based in the Main Press Centre, sitting alongside colleagues from text and TV. I was often the central point of contact for the six photographers covering the event alongside my main responsibility for picture editing.

I received those two unusual messages when Japan’s Chief Photographer Issei Kato, and  Asia Editor-in-Charge Tim Wimborne were setting up and retrieving their remote cameras.

The Doors of Rabat

Rabat, Morocco

By Damir Sagolj

Behind heavy, ornate doors on the Rue de Farj, an invisible pressure-cooker whistles. Next comes the smell of food that carries me back to childhood. Two cheerful voices can be heard, both female: one is patronising, the younger almost singing. Over the thick stone wall I can see a mother-in-law teaching a newlywed girl the secrets of her cooking.

A man walks in front of doors in walls of Rabat's Medina

Over the next two hours of a cool Sunday morning, I stood before and photographed 55 similar and equally mesmerising doors. By noon, I was in love with Rabat’s Medina.

A combination photo shows some of colourful doors in Rabat's old parts Medina and Kasbah of the Oudayas

UNESCO made Rabat a World Heritage Site two years ago. The media and tour operators call it a “must-see destination.” But it seems the tourist hordes have yet to find out. While tourists are getting squeezed and grilled in the madness of Marakesh and Fez, the old part of Rabat – its beautiful Medina and Kasbah of the Udayas – remain an almost unspoiled oasis of calm. Smaller and more compact, its labyrinths of streets, passages and dead ends are a treasure trove of shapes and colours, of moments begging to be photographed.

Cattle Herding on the Hungarian Plains

Hortobagy, Hungary

By Laszlo Balogh

I was working on a photo story about a herdsman who works 48-hour shifts on the Great Plains of eastern Hungary, where he herds 362 semi wild Hungarian Grey cattle by himself. The breed are indigenous to the country, and are considered a national symbol of Hungary.

Cattle rest during sunset at the Great Hungarian Plain in Hortobagy

The herdsman, 62-year-old Janos Bana, is doing the same work his ancestors have done for hundreds of years and represents a rare profession that is disappearing in the modern world.

Hungarian herdsman Janos Bana, 62 walks in front of his cattle at the Great Hungarian Plain in Hortobagy

To shoot the story I had to drive 10 kilometres to the village of Hortobagy in the Great Plains of eastern Hungary, which to me, felt like the middle of nowhere.

Illustrating Venezuela’s surreal prices

Caracas, Venezuela

By Carlos Garcia Rawlins

Finding images to accompany economic stories has always been a challenge. There’s a temptation to be repetitive and you sometimes end up illustrating, yet not informing properly. I wanted to do something more significant this time to really capture Venezuela’s economic crisis and the way it is hitting people’s pockets. I’ve been covering – and, as a Venezuelan, living! – this subject for a long time but I’m weary of the typical photo of an old lady spending her few resources on food at a supermarket.

So this time I wanted to create images that would really make people sit up and see the story at a glance – namely the crazily high prices for simple everyday products. The idea was straightforward: photograph an item with a price tag showing its equivalent in U.S. dollars and emphasizing that further by pasting up the notes. Executing it, though, proved complicated.

A kilogram (2.2 lbs) of raw carrots as photographed in a studio with an illustrative price tag of $19.05 (US dollars), equivalent to the Bs. 120 (bolivars) that it costs on average to purchase in Caracas at the official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars per dollar, in Caracas September 29, 2014. Venezuela's economic crisis has led to some shocking and surreal price distortions that hit people's buying power dramatically. While the government of President Nicolas Maduro calls the country's minimum wage of Bs. 4,252 the highest in the region when converted to $675 using the official exchange rate, the galloping black market for currency considers it as just $42.50 when converted at the street rate of Bs. 100 per US dollar, the rate which many importers and retail outlets must use to acquire hard currency. Venezuela's annual inflation rate of more than 63 percent is the highest in the Americas, according to official statistics. Picture taken September 29, 2014.   REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

“Hi, good afternoon, I’m a photographer, I work for Reuters, an international news agency, and I’m doing a project in which I need to photograph a pair of new shoes. Could you help me?” That was how I began a long tour of shops trying to persuade puzzled shopkeepers and salespeople to lend me their wares instead of selling me them. My offer was to leave the money as a guarantee and then pick it up when I returned the product. It seemed reasonable to me, but most simply said ‘no’.An Adidas Adipure Crazy running shoe as photographed in a studio with an illustrative price tag of $1,198 (US dollars), equivalent to the Bs. 7,547 (bolivars) a pair of them costs on average to purchase in Caracas at the official exchange rate of 6.3 bolivars per dollar, in Caracas September 29, 2014. Venezuela's economic crisis has led to some shocking and surreal price distortions that hit people's buying power dramatically. While the government of President Nicolas Maduro calls the country's minimum wage of Bs. 4,252 the highest in the region when converted to $675 using the official exchange rate, the galloping black market for currency considers it as just $42.50 when converted at the street rate of Bs. 100 per US dollar, the rate which many importers and retail outlets must use to acquire hard currency. Venezuela's annual inflation rate of more than 63 percent is the highest in the Americas, according to official statistics. Picture taken September 29, 2014.  REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

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.

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