Photographers' Blog

The tiger, the pig and the cage

Sumatra Island, Indonesia

By Beawiharta

Over a three-week period in February, I covered two very different animal-related assignments in Indonesia – the slaughtering of snakes in West Java and the preservation of the endangered tiger in Sumatra.

In West Java, Wakira along with his 10 workers kill hundreds of snakes each day for their skin at his slaughterhouse in Cirebon. While in Sumatra, real estate tycoon Tomy Winata saves and releases tigers into the wild at his Tambling Wildlife Nature Conservation. I didn’t enjoy the snake slaughterhouse assignment because snakes are dangerous and disgusting, but I really liked visiting the tigers in Tambling.

After a nearly 90 minute flight on a Super Puma helicopter from Indonesia’s capital Jakarta, we landed at the Tambling Wildlife Nature Conservation on the southern tip of Sumatra Island. The 45,000 hectare forest reserve can only be reached by boat or plane. As soon as we reached the Sumatran Tiger Rescue Centre on our golf cart, we could immediately hear the roars of the tigers. Seeing three ferocious tigers up close was shocking to me. At times, it was difficult to move and I trembled in fear as the view from my camera lens made me forget that they were actually caged up.

As I was taking pictures of Tommy Winata, the owner of TWNC, he gave a high five to one of the tigers, who will be released next year. After taking pictures and blowing them up on my 5d screen, I could see the tiger’s face and his look was friendly, not threatening. It could be that the tiger knows when Tommy is around it usually means its feeding time. Tigers get fed live pigs every three days.

TWNC has released five tigers since 2009, while eight are still under their care. One more tiger will be released next year. This was feeding day, so I chose the largest tiger to take pictures of. Despite being caged up, he still maintained the instincts of being in the wild. I waited for the animal keeper to feed the tiger. The keeper grabbed the feet of the pig, which typically weighs between 10 and 12 kilograms, and released the animal into the cage. The tiger ran toward the pig and lifted his paw in what seemed like an attempt to kill his prey. But in fact, the tiger was playing with the animal before killing it.

This isn’t my first Mardi Gras

Sydney, Australia

By Tim Wimborne

Not many photographers look forward to shooting on the street on a wet Saturday night. This probably led to my ‘big break’ with the sole agency I had my eye on shooting for – more so than the months I had spent promoting myself as a potential Reuters stringer. And so I covered the 2001 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade. I got there early, left late, carried too much gear, over shot and over filed.

Now, after a couple of years freelancing and then a decade as a staffer with assignments in dozens of countries, my time Down Under is up. This month I take on a new position with Reuters in Singapore. My last assignment in Australia? The 2013 Sydney Gay and Lesbian Mardi Gras Parade.

2001 – I was still shooting film and used a Nikon F5. I would have used Fiji-color 800 film, maybe pushed a stop.
2013 – Last Saturday I covered the parade using Canon EOS 1Dx bodies, 16Gb cards although still shooting mostly with prime lenses.

Rio from above

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

By Ricardo Moraes

Flying over Rio is always incredible. Seeing my city from the sky reveals its beauty from new angles.

My recent flight over the city was focused on the renovation work being carried out at the Maracana Stadium, which will host games for the Confederations Cup this year, the soccer World Cup in 2014 and the 2016 Olympic Games.

With these big events fast approaching, we are constantly monitoring the progress of building works. The new roof being installed at Maracana is supposed to be its big moment, marking the beginning of the end of renovations.

Inside the Pistorius courthouse

Pretoria, South Africa

By Siphiwe Sibeko

The Oscar Pistorius murder trial is one of the biggest stories South Africa has ever had. Covering it as a Reuters photographer was one of the most demanding and frustrating assignments I’ve ever had.

We were given strict orders by the court not to take photographs of anything or anyone while the magistrate was in the courtroom. This limited our access to Oscar and made it difficult to take good pictures.

On his first court appearance he stood in the dock and looked straight at the magistrate, avoiding looking at photographers and the people in the gallery. The magistrate read out that Oscar had been charged with murdering his girlfriend, Reeva Steenkamp. Oscar bowed his head and breathed heavily, struggling to contain his emotions and wept. I think this was when it hit him that it was not a dream but reality. At the end of the court proceedings on that first day I only managed to photograph Oscar from the side as he was avoiding photographers. Then he turned as quickly as he could and left the court.

An endangered priesthood

Tagaytay city, Philippines

By Erik de Castro

I woke at dawn to the sound of a bell ringing and Gregorian Chant music at the Saint Augustine Minor Seminary compound on Mindoro island in the central Philippines. It was still dark as dozens of seminarians in the first phase of a 12-year journey to priesthood walked towards a chapel for their morning prayers and a mass.

I walked to the same chapel 41 years ago and left after more than two years in the seminary.

As I walked with them in the chilly air, I felt the seminary’s sprawling compound was so big now compared to the time I was there. Since 1962 when the seminary opened, there have been 1200 seminarians who have passed through, according to Father Andy Lubi. So far it has produced 72 priests, some who have already left for a variety of reasons. From the 100 recruited during an annual vocation campaign, 12 is the average number of candidates that enter the seminary per year.

Kiev’s subway disco

Kiev, Ukraine

By Gleb Garanich

Passing through a pedestrian subway in central Kiev about twenty years ago, I saw elderly people dancing. I stopped for a few moments and then proceeded on my route – I was 25 years old at the time and, frankly speaking, this story was of no interest to me.

By pure accident, I ended up in the same place one evening in early February, and all of a sudden I felt a completely different attitude to what was happening… I was no longer indifferent to the lives and destinies of these people. What makes some 200 people gather in this passway on weekends for twenty years and dance for four hours?

Why gather in this very subway? Well, it is understandable – they have no money to rent a spacious room and dance indoors, and the mayor’s office allows them to gather underground instead of allocating any funds.

Hitting the ground running

Washington, D.C.

By Kevin Lamarque

Air Force One descends and the well choreographed dance begins: meal trays go up, shoes put back on, and laptops slipped into backpacks. Often the movie is abandoned minutes before the ending. Perhaps it’s time for one last reach into the candy basket. Cameras are slung over shoulders and settings are re-checked. Questions are asked: “Is it raining out there?” “Is there a pen of greeters?” Photographers, first out the door of the press cabin, make their way to the designated spot under the wing to photograph the President descending the steps of Air Force One.

Whether it’s a quick day trip to Virginia or a red-eye to Europe or Asia, the arrival of Air Force One is always a spectacle. For locals, it is the quintessential moment of self-importance: “Air Force One is landing in our city.” Footage of the plane landing is usually broadcast live by local networks. From inside the plane’s press cabin, we often watch this live footage, actually seeing ourselves land. It’s a pretty weird experience when you think about it.

For photographers, the arrival is the first image that places the President in his new locale. It is the beginning of a new story. The arrival photos are usually the first images we transmit to our clients who are sometimes eagerly awaiting a timely visual to match their story.

Searching for UFOs

Sedona, Arizona

By Mike Blake

Red rocks, pink jeeps, vortex tours, pan flute music and UFO tours: Welcome to Sedona, Arizona.

You can see when arriving why for hundreds of years the Native Americans considered Sedona a sacred place; it is stunningly beautiful. But like most beautiful things on this planet we humans find ways to monetize the experience. From parking passes to tours through the desert in pink jeeps, businesses are created and a micro economy sprouts up next to the vortexes. But back to UFO’s…

If you ever get an opportunity to go on a UFO tour, take it. I took my camera along, out into the blackness of the winter desert just south of Sedona where we met up with Kim Carlsberg, who happens to be a well known UFO author and speaker on the subject of UFOs.

Clowning around with healthcare

Bern, Switzerland

By Pascal Lauener

The first time I meet Regula Kaltenrieder, a qualified acupuncturist, I didn’t know that she was one of the 200 Clown Doctors of the Theodora foundation.

The funny and loud crowd celebrated their 20th anniversary on the Federal Parliament Square in Bern. The foundation was founded in 1993 through the initiative of two brothers, André and Jan Poulie, who decided, in memory of their mother, to name the foundation Theodora. Outside Switzerland, the foundation is currently active in seven countries: England, Belarus, China, Spain, France, Italy and Turkey. After a chat with the media representative of the foundation and several phone calls and e-mails later they accepted a photographer to go on a visit with one of their clown doctors.

Last week I met Regula outside a Lebanese restaurant next to the main hospital, the Insel in Bern. She was drinking a cup of tea and chatting with four other women and the media representative of the foundation, who had to ask the parents for permission to take pictures during my visit with the clown doctor.

The writing’s on the wall

Belfast, Northern Ireland

By Cathal McNaughton

A five meter high mural of a gunman dressed in army fatigues and a balaclava, clutching an AK-47 painted on the gable end of a wall of a house in a residential street – people walk by and don’t even notice it.

In other parts of the UK and Ireland there would probably be outrage – but not in Northern Ireland, where young children happily play on streets with a backdrop of politically charged murals commemorating the violence and bloodshed of the Troubles.

These murals have become street wallpaper for the people living in this small corner of Europe who barely bat an eyelid at a gory depiction of a skeleton crawling over dead bodies that adorns the end wall of a house on their street.