Photographers' Blog

Fukushima’s children

Fukushima Prefecture, Japan

By Toru Hanai

It will soon be the third anniversary of the March 11, 2011 earthquake and tsunami that wrecked the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

I myself live in Tokyo, more than a three-hour drive away. Right after the disaster, I too bought bottled water both to drink and to use around the house. Now, however, I drink from the tap without thinking about it.

As the anniversary of the nuclear accident approached, I found myself wondering what life has been like for the people of Fukushima, especially the children, whose lives are still directly affected by it.

So I visited Koriyama city in Fukushima prefecture, about 55 kilometers (34 miles) west of the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant.

Until last year, Koriyama recommended that children aged 0-2 should not spend more than 15 minutes a day outside and those aged 3-5 should not be outdoors for more than 30 minutes. Even now, some nurseries voluntarily continue to use these limits after the official recommendations were relaxed.

Mothers and Daughters – Hopes and Dreams

By Reuters Photographers

On March 8 activists will celebrate International Women’s Day, which dates back to the early 20th Century and has been observed by the United Nations since 1975.

In the run-up to the event, Reuters photographers in countries around the globe took a series of portraits of women and their daughters.

They asked each mother what her profession was, at what age she had finished education, and what she wanted her daughter to become when she grew up.

Making it as a masseuse

Zhengzhou, China
By Jason Lee

I have to admit that I’m a massage addict. I’m hooked on the magical, relaxing effects that massage has, especially after a tiring day of shooting pictures that leaves many of my muscles sore.

My love for the art and my sense of curiosity brought me to the Chinese city of Zhengzhou to photograph the training center of a leading massage company – Huaxia Liangtse.

When I first saw the gloomy classrooms and humble dormitories they seemed a long way from Huaxia Liangtse’s luxurious massage stores in Beijing. But the basic conditions did not deter students.

Banished once a month

Legudsen Village, Nepal

By Navesh Chitrakar

“No, I will not send my daughters to practice chaupadi”, said 22-year-old Muna Devi Saud as she stood outside her house in the hills of Legudsen Village – one of many small settlements in the remote Achham District of far western Nepal.

In isolated regions like this, chaupadi has been a custom for centuries. But those from Nepal’s cities or from abroad often don’t know what it means.

Chaupadi is the practice of treating women as impure and untouchable when they menstruate. When they go through their monthly cycle, they are not allowed to enter a house or pass by a temple. They cannot use public water sources, touch livestock, attend social events like weddings, or touch others. When they are served food, the person who gives it to them will not even touch the dish. And at night, they are not allowed to sleep in their homes – instead they have to stay in sheds or outbuildings, often with no proper windows or doors.

City Slickers

London, Britain

By Eddie Keogh

The beast that is Canary Wharf underground station spits out its batch of workers every morning and swallows them up again every evening, Monday to Friday.

The relentless cycle never seems to change for the financial markets’ suited workers, who return every day, smartphone in hand. They are concentrating on their emails – the oxygen of business.

It’s no easy thing to focus on a phone in your left hand, carry a cappuccino in your right, and maneuver through crowds, ticket machines and escalators without missing a word. Presumably they’re even better with numbers.

Afghan refugees – Seeking sanctuary

Brussels, Belgium

By Francois Lenoir

It was a cold, wet morning when I passed through the doors of the Church of Saint John the Baptist at the Beguinage, a grand 17th century building in the center of Brussels.

Inside, children were playing and shouting in the large, dark hall, which was lined with rows and rows of tents. I had not just entered a church – I was inside people’s homes. The building had become a very private space.

Saint John the Baptist’s is occupied by a group of Afghan migrants, who have been living there for more than three months. Their first asylum request was refused by the authorities and they were told to leave Belgium, but some ended up travelling around the county aimlessly and were left squatting in unoccupied buildings.

Kids, cats and education

Birdsboro, Pennsylvania
By Mark Makela

It was my editor Chris Helgren who told me about the “Book Buddies” program, where children in the Pennsylvania town of Birdsboro read to cats up for adoption at an animal shelter. The assignment was a gift – unusual, humorous, endearing, with universal appeal.

The Animal Rescue League of Berks County has been running this program for six months, and is less than an hour’s drive away from my home, but I had never heard of it. This was a perfect illustration of that hackneyed but apt idiom that great stories are in your backyard, but can be so easily overlooked.

The scheme began in August 2013 after Kristi Rodriguez, an employee of the shelter, brought her son in to read to the cats. He enjoyed the experience so much that he wanted to come back. Now there are about three-dozen students in grades 1-8 who regularly participate.

In Caracas – The business of death

Caracas, Venezuela

By Carlos Garcia Rawlins

As a photographer I’ve been present at many funerals and I’ve often found myself, in one way or another, surrounded by death and all that it entails.

One of the more gruesome things that I have witnessed is the sight of a victim of violence being embalmed.

The pungent odors of formaldehyde and decomposition, and the way that they make your eyes itch, are nothing compared to the moment when the embalmer methodically removes the seal that closed the head-to-belly incision following the autopsy.

Water, water everywhere

Moorland, Britain

By Cathal McNaughton

It’s like a scene from a Hollywood disaster movie. The Somerset village of Moorland is under five feet of water. Wading along the usually bustling main street, I am struck by how quiet it is – everything has an eerie, post-apocalyptic feel.

The only sound I can hear is coming from the now breached flood defences moving backwards and forwards in the ebb and flow of the rising waters, creaking like a sinking ship.

There is a strong chemical smell of leaking fuel as I push past the huge chunks of debris floating by in the murky waters. Cars lie abandoned with their lights left on, the houses are sandbagged and empty – their inhabitants left days ago. I see a deserted house with post still sticking out of the letterbox.

Fast and fearless: photographing at Sochi’s Sanki Sliding Center

Rosa Khutor, Russia

By Fabrizio Bensch

It must take a lot of courage for bobsleigh, skeleton and luge competitors to hurl themselves at mega speeds down the 1,365-meter ice track at the Sanki Sliding Center. It looks crazy – would you do it?

Sanki is one of the Sochi 2014 Winter Olympic venues, where some of the world’s best athletes compete for glory. The venue is some 60 km (37 miles) northeast of Sochi in the “mountain cluster” of Olympic venues.

Throughout the Games, my photography colleagues Arnd Wiegmann from Switzerland, Murad Sezer from Turkey and myself have been getting up in the early hours of the morning to start what is normally a 14-hour day. We travel to the venue using a cable car and cover everything from the training sessions in the morning to the competitions in the evening.

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