Photographers' Blog

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.

For the last home match of the season, I arrived at the stadium in advance to install my equipment. The night announced itself as a long one. It was pouring rain and Paris Saint-Germain was already the winner of the French League. This could have been the most irrelevant match if it was not for the fact that this night was to be the last soccer match of one of the most defining figures in soccer.

As in previous games, Beckham gave himself to the match and did everything to be a key player on the pitch. Thanks to him his team was able to score. However, there was something different this time. You could see his desperation to score, a need to shine, and an attempt to make those final minutes on the pitch last as long as possible.

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.

The blind cheering the blind

Watertown, Massachusetts

By Brian Snyder

Almost universally, when I told friends or family that I was going to cover the 67th annual Eastern Athletic Association for the Blind track and field tournament hosted at the Perkins School for the Blind, they asked some variation of “how?” Not that it couldn’t be done, but how exactly?

I had no doubt that it could be done, having covered other assignments at the Perkins School. What I found at the track meet though was a mixture of ingenuity, common sense, and some traits common to any student-athlete. Events ranged from sprints to distance races to field events such as shot put or softball throw.

Some of the student athletes were not completely blind, and could navigate a black track with bright white lane markers.

Seaside nuclear power

Omaezaki, Japan

By Toru Hanai

Chubu Electric Power Co.’s Hamaoka Nuclear Power Station in Japan is located at water level next to a beach. It is also widely reported to be one of the world’s most dangerous nuclear plants as it sits close to a major fault line – not unlike the one that caused the Fukushima nuclear disaster.

I had an offer of an exclusive tour of Chubu Nuclear Power Station where an 18-meter (60 ft) high and 1.6 km (1 mile) long tsunami defense wall has been built at a cost of $1.3 billion.

Being located beachside I immediately thought of basing the main photo for this trip on this famous “ukiyoe” print by the artist Hokusai:

My memories of a dictator

Buenos Aires, Argentina­

By Marcos Brindicci

Former Argentine dictator Jorge Rafael Videla died on May 17 at the age of 87 inside his cell in a prison near Buenos Aires, where he was serving a life sentence for crimes against humanity. He was the first President and most emblematic figure of the military junta that ruled Argentina from 1976 to 1983, during the so-called “Dirty War” years. Human rights organizations claim that around 30,000 people disappeared during those years, and Videla never repented about the kidnappings and murders ordered by the state.

His death of old age got me thinking about one of my first memories of him, and also, one of my last ones.

When I was about five years old my mother took me to Iguazu Falls for a winter vacation and we ended up staying at the same hotel where Videla, as president, was staying. I was running all around the hotel and, at one point, I was stopped by members of his guard and led back downstairs. My mother later told me what was going on and that Videla was the guy I had seen on TV. It is a candid memory of someone I learned to loathe for what he had done and what he represented, as most Argentines do.

Lahore Inferno: Losing the battle with fire

WARNING: DISTURBING CONTENT

Lahore, Pakistan

By Damir Sagolj

A man wearing traditional white Pakistani clothes disappeared from the window back into the burning building. A minute later, a different man wearing black emerged from inside but it looked like someone was holding his lifeless body. The body was slowly pushed over the edge of the window and then released. Twenty seconds later the man in white came out again. He sat calmly for a few seconds in the open window with his back turned outwards and then just fell.

GALLERY: MEN FALL FROM BUILDING INFERNO

And that was it; both men were dead in less than a minute. After several long hours of fighting a raging fire (or were they short hours? Time gets twisted in extreme situations like this), this part of the story ended in the way I had feared from the beginning – the worst possible way. I shot pictures of people falling from the building to their deaths, of others crying on the ground, of desperate and helpless rescue workers.

It was supposed to be an easy pre-election day in Lahore. We did expect some heat as the campaign of the two main candidates was coming to an end but what happened that Thursday still haunts me without any signs of easing. What started as an easy day for me and poor government workers in their modern office building in Punjab’s capital ended with more deaths than in election violence across the country over the next few days.

Salt caravans of the Danakil Depression

Danakil Depression, Ethiopia

By Siegfried Modola

To descend into the Danakil Depression is to step into another world.

The thick warm air, the hazy sky and the rugged empty mountains that gradually give way to the immensity of a white, shimmering salt desert all leave the traveller in awe of this cruel yet fascinating landscape. Overlapping the Afar region of northeastern Ethiopia, Eritrea and Djibouti, this is the lowest point in Africa and one of the hottest places on Earth.

Venturing deep into this inhospitable land requires a well organized plan. Getting stuck with no back-up vehicle, no satellite communication or simply not enough water could become life threatening within a matter of hours.

I started my trip from the city of Mekele in the northern Tigray region of Ethiopia. I had not come to explore the area as a tourist. Instead, I was there to document the caravans of thousands of camels which for centuries have descended deep into the depression to extract salt. Mekele was the place where I had to find a good 4×4 vehicle, a driver and enough water and food to be on the road for six days. Most importantly, I had to find a reliable fixer, someone who knew the region well and spoke the local language but who also had to be familiar with the salt trade and could maneuver well within complex Afar clan dynamics.

A sheep with an artificial heart – or maybe not

Tianjin municipality, China

By Petar Kujundzic

I took a trip to the port city of Tianjin after China Central Television (CCTV) reported on a sheep with an artificial heart developed at TEDA International Cardiovascular Hospital. According to CCTV, the hospital recently unveiled a new artificial heart, which was implanted in a sheep two months ago. The sheep lived healthily for more than 62 days, a new record among similar experiments in the country.

This sounded like a very good reason to leave Beijing for a day and report about such an extraordinary achievement. Upon arrival we met the hospital’s administration director who told us that this was not really an artificial heart but a ventricular assistant device (VAD), which is basically a mechanical pump that’s used to support the heart’s function and blood flow in people who have weakened hearts. He didn’t know why CCTV had reported differently.

After being disappointed for a couple of minutes we decided not to go back empty-handed, so they took us to a low-rise building next to the hospital where the star of the experiment was located, a ram nicknamed Tianjiu (Everlasting). The three-year-old ram carried a VAD, which was designed by the hospital to enhance cardiac pumping by using magnetic suspension technologies from state-of-the-art aerospace science.

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