Photographers' Blog

Striking the balance on the pitch

London, England

By Russell Boyce

Every trip to Wembley Stadium where football is played is a passionate affair. The preparation, expectation, the rise of tension, the meeting of friends and foes, fear of not being match-fit, your position, good luck or bad luck, missing opportunities, grabbing at a half opportunity and making it work, a flash of inspiration, getting the goal (Oh joy! Oh joy!), missing the goal (let the pitch open and swallow me whole) and of course the team. Always team; will you win or lose? And that is just the photographers.


Photo by Paul Hackett

Recently a picture editor told me he receives about 27,000 images every day. He looks for short cuts to be able to see the best pictures that tell the whole story without getting snowed under looking at hundreds of pictures he doesn’t need. How can we help?

I am very preoccupied with the future of news pictures. Questions I ask myself are “is coverage at major events very different now from the past? And what will be relevant in the future?” I decided to apply this question to the Borussia Dortmund v Bayern Munich Champions League final at Wembley Stadium. What pictures are needed? Simple to answer, the fans, great action, the goals, the celebration, the dejection, the match changing incident, the final whistle moment, the personalities and of course the trophy.

Putting this into context the first final I ever shot at Wembley was totally covered by two photographers, one at each end and on three rolls of film each – first bike back to the office after 20 minutes action and then he’d return to speed me back to the office to process and print my other two rolls that contained all of the above – hopefully sharp – and all in 108 frames. Often there were gaps in content and to win you had to have less gaps than your competitors. The sense was the more you shot the less gaps and the better the coverage.

Today every corner is covered and the technology that is used now allows skilled and clever sports photographers (who actually understand the story of the game) to capture every moment with the pictures transmitted within seconds. There should be no gaps in the coverage. Everything should be there for the editor to chose from. With every incident covered the question is how many pictures do we need to send from this final to satisfy client needs – a quick search reveals that Reuters moved about 280 pictures.

Finding the face of France’s unemployed

Florange, France

By Vincent Kessler

The name “Valley of the Angels” is derived from the last four-letters, “ange” meaning “angel” in English, which is found in the names of many cities in the Lorraine valley of northeastern France. This valley, also known as Fensch Valley for the river which flows through it, was long home to forges and steelmaking which grew out of the mining of iron ore. The mines and steel foundries forged the culture of a people and the landscape they live in.

The decline of this industry started at the end of the seventies with major social conflicts and demonstrations in other nearby valleys in the region, also involved with the steel industry. For 20 years now the valley has faced closures of industrial sites, mines, furnaces, all contrary to the steel tradition of the region. When I headed there last week, I first photographed the imprint of the past and present on the valley. And like anybody, I was initially taken by the kind of “gloomy” atmosphere you will find in any industrial area.

But the interest was also to try to go further in finding people and testimony about the past, and how it exists with the valley today. As a starting point I contacted trade union representatives and steel workers I knew from coverage of demonstrations and strikes in the region for 20 years, and especially during the last 20 months of social conflict at the Florange-Hayange and ArcelorMittal sites, the last two blast furnaces in the valley.

The Pope is pop

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Sergio Moraes

When we recently received the official agenda for Pope Francis’ July trip to Rio de Janeiro, we went straight out to photograph the sites he will visit. Brazil has 123 million Roman Catholics according to the last census, more than any other country. Since Rio is the world’s most irreverent city, according to its own residents, all Popes are received here with the slogan, “The Pope is pop.”

And with the large number of events in which he’ll participate here, that slogan will be on everyone’s minds.

Cariocas, as we natives of Rio are called, have a joke for everything, including for all the delays that we see happening in the construction of stadiums for next year’s World Cup. Our slogan of the moment is “Imagine that during the Cup”, and we use it for everything. If we run into a traffic jam, someone will inevitably say, “Imagine that during the Cup.” If a beer is too warm, if a restaurant’s service is slow, or if a day is rainy, we blurt out, “Imagine that during the Cup.”

The man with the coconut and the GoPro

Lalitpur, Nepal

By Navesh Chitrakar

Rato Machhindranath is the god of rain, so huge crowds gather in Lalitpur around a 32-meter (104 foot) high tower mounted on a chariot during the chariot festival in an effort to ensure good rains and prevent drought.

The highlight of the day is when someone climbs to the top of the chariot and throws a coconut to devotees below. This is an ancient ritual thought to guarantee the catcher of the coconut the birth of a son. Few people believe this nowadays and I think participation is more about enjoying and preserving the tradition.

Every year I saw the same man climb atop the chariot. Every year he threw the coconut down towards the devotees. I really wanted to show in pictures what the perspective of this man looked like.

Reality of a grand Hasidic wedding

Jerusalem

By Ronen Zvulun

Coming back home at 5am sunrise, I was just beginning to digest the grand event I was lucky to witness and cover: the wedding of the grandson of one of the most influential spiritual leaders in Israel’s ultra-Orthodox community.

GALLERY: ULTRA-ORTHODOX WEDDING EXTRAVAGANZA

The wedding, attended by some 25,000 people, was a massive event that was conducted like a military operation.

How do you take care of thousands of people, feed them, accommodate them, seat them and provide safety for the huge crowd? There was a 20-story stand that needed to hold thousands of dancing Hasidic men.

Fidel and Miss Green, till death do they part

Sagua La Grande, Cuba

By Desmond Boylan

I know a Cuban man named Fidel who is tall, well-built and hardworking. He is known to have had several wives and many girlfriends during his life, and now has a pregnant daughter who will soon make him a grandfather, but those details of his life are diffuse. What he does admit is that the undisputed love of his life is Señorita Verde, or Miss Green.

Fidel gets on well with his neighbors, likes telling jokes, and is always in a good mood. At times he looks a bit nostalgic or sad as his house badly needs repair, and he worries the whole house will fall down on him and Miss Green during the heavy rains and strong winds of the new hurricane season.

People have offered to buy Miss Green from him so he can repair his crumbling 100-year-old wooden house, but he remains defiant. “I will never sell Miss Green. Just the idea of selling her makes me shiver,” he said. “People have no feelings.”

Beckham’s final 81st minute

Paris, France

By Gonzalo Fuentes

Since David Beckham arrived in Paris the media have captured every move, every training session, every single time he and his family have roamed around the city.

The infrastructure of the Paris Saint Germain (PSG) stadium was upgraded to handle all the media that he attracts. The media in Paris was ready to follow all his actions as evidenced when 150 journalists were accredited to cover the presentation of his PSG jersey.

While covering his first match, I was able to capture an emblematic picture that I was hoping to shoot. Beckham ran and embraced Swedish team mate Zlatan Ibrahimovic to celebrate scoring, providing me with an image of a true team player. As the French tournament continued, Beckham did what he does best, which was to spread himself among the team, while becoming one of the key leaders.

Defining “News photographer” for the future

London, England

By Russell Boyce

During recent photography workshops we have been running, many of those attending described themselves as “a professional photographer working in the news business” while others described themselves as “photojournalists”. The title “Photojournalist” is an occasionally abused title but for those professionals who are attending our courses who communicate their picture stories to a sophisticated audience I think it’s quite fair for them to describe themselves as a photojournalist.

I began to wonder, is there a difference? Is it just about self-perception or merely a name tag? Does a news photographer see themselves as a working professional who is given assignments and their job is to produce a picture to match that assignment? And is a photojournalist someone who actively chases stories or looks for new ways to illustrate recurring themes through photography and doesn’t just wait for assignments? Both, and a mixture of both, at the present are valid roles. Or is it maybe time to find a new definition? But I am wrestling with the question “what future for photography in a news environment in the next five years and onward?” What status and role, will these photographers have? Before I could examine this further, first I thought it was important to research the actual definition of the roles.

A quick look in the Concise Oxford Dictionary for “news photographer” comes up blank as does a search online. A search for the word “photojournalist”, the noun derived from photojournalism reveals a definition “1. The art or practice of relating news by photographs, with or without an accompanying text, esp in magazines”.

In the spirit of a Franciscan Pope

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Ricardo Moraes

It was Palm Sunday in Rio’s cathedral when I found them in a small group wearing their simple, traditional robes, with short hair and beards, praying, concentrating, amidst hundreds of other Catholics.  I’m talking about the Franciscans, young followers of Saint Francis of Assisi who on some occasions I had seen roaming the city, almost invisible, helping Rio’s poor.

I knew nothing about them, but with the election of a Latin American Pope and his chosen name of Francis, I began to do some research. Apart from what I learned from the Internet and through phone calls to a monastery, there wasn’t a lot more information available. The Franciscan orders have existed for centuries around the world, but I wanted to know more about those youths who one monk had told me are the “Church’s rebels.”

I stood observing them during an important moment in the mass, with their eyes tightly shut and very serious faces. I really wanted to photograph them, but with so many people around me I didn’t want to disturb the mass. I waited, and when the mass finished I was finally able to talk to them and introduce myself. Their serious looks disappeared and with smiles they told me that I would be very welcome to visit them in their home.

A special performance

Madrid, Spain

By Susana Vera

Luismi Astorga clasps his hands as he lifts his head up to the sky. He’s waiting to take the stage at a music club in Madrid where his dance group, Fusionarte, is taking part in a charity gala.

Astorga closes his eyes and begins to pray. The click of my camera breaks his concentration and he smiles at me as he proceeds to tell me, “Waiting makes me nervous.”

It’s not the first time Astorga has faced the thrill of performing for a live audience. He has been dancing with Fusionarte since Argentine choreographer and dancer Pau Vazquez formed the group six years ago with the aim of introducing dance to people with special needs.