Photographers' Blog

Down and dirty English

WARNING: SEXUAL CONTENT

Belo Horizonte, Brazil

By Pilar Olivares

As I went chasing after “ladies of the night” (who sometimes work in the daytime too) I discovered that some of them are proud to be sex workers, almost too proud to be bothered by someone like me – a photographer looking for a good story.

I was on an assignment to take pictures of a group of prostitutes who are taking English classes once a week in preparation for the World Cup. They hope these lessons will help them communicate better with soccer fans who might use their services when they come to Brazil.

Of all my subjects, the most elusive character to photograph was Cida Vieira, the president of the Association of Prostitutes of Minas Gerais (APROSMIG), based in the southeastern Brazilian state whose capital is Belo Horizonte.

Before our first meeting I spent a whole day at the APROSMIG office just waiting for her to appear. While I was there, I saw quite a bit of activity in the small room they rent as office space, but it was mostly from women looking for condoms. They would enter, open their plastic bags, and the secretary would drop in a fistful of the little packets.

Brazilian sex worker Laura Maria do Espirito Santo (R), holds packets of condoms as she and Cida da Silva, both members of the Association of Prostitutes of Minas Gerais, attend English classes in Belo Horizonte, May 12, 2014. A group of sex workers are taking English classes to better attend to soccer fans during the 2014 World Cup. Picture taken May 12, 2014. REUTERS/Pilar Olivares (BRAZIL)

Some of the women would walk out without muttering a word after signing a paper for what they received. Others, however, would stay a while to tell anecdotes, laughing and describing the sexual fantasies of their clients in some detail.

Lights, Camera, Action

Sydney, Australia

Jason Reed

Sydney is one of the first cities to celebrate the coming of the New Year every January 1, and people around the globe are familiar with the spectacular fireworks that accompany many a popped champagne cork as the clock strikes midnight.

When I was a young boy, my family would join thousands of others and find a spot along the harbour foreshore to drink it all in (the fireworks that is!). We never went to the same place twice and it was always an adventure. Now, all grown up and armed with a camera, I went on an assignment that helped me relive some of those childhood memories.

 

I was covering the Vivid Sydney festival, a spectacle of light, talks and music that is not as well known as the city’s New Year’s celebrations, but still a sight to see.

Remembering D-Day, 70 years on

Omaha Beach, France

By Chris Helgren

During the years of my career that I spent working in Europe, I met many veterans who fought and lost friends on World War Two battlefields.

One such occasion was in 2009, when I went to Normandy to cover the 65th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the allied invasion that spelled the beginning of the end for Nazi Germany.  

President Barack Obama arrived at the American cemetery at Colleville-sur-Mer, where more than 9,000 soldiers are buried, to pay tribute to those who gave their lives. I was only covering the Canadian contingent during this trip – a comparatively small part of the proceedings – but I vowed to return at a later date to explore the area.

Lives washed away

Zepce, Bosnia

By Dado Ruvic

For many days since the floods in the Balkans began, I have woken up with tears in my eyes. I have been looking at my friends in disbelief, watching as their lives slowly crumble.

Bosnia has been devastated by the worst floods to hit the region in living memory. More than a million people have been cut off from clean water, 100,000 buildings have been left uninhabitable and over half a million people have left their homes.

From the beginning of this crisis, I have felt a struggle within myself between the man who is watching his friends and family suffer, and the journalist, who is trying to document it all for the rest of the world.

World War One – a glimpse of the front

Paris, France
By Charles Platiau

Editor’s Note: The animated images in this blog are made from stereoscopic glass plates taken during World War One.

Stereoscopic photography uses two images seen together through a special viewer, creating a picture that looks almost three dimensional.

The images here are produced using a GIF file that rapidly repeats the left and right stereoscopic plate, in order to give a 3D effect, without having the original viewer.

Scotland – a tale of two cities

Edinburgh/Kilmarnock, Scotland
By Suzanne Plunkett

I find myself waiting in a featureless hotel conference room in the Scottish town of Kilmarnock. I’m here to photograph an informal meeting about the benefits of voting for independence in the upcoming referendum on whether Scotland should break its union with the rest of the United Kingdom.

But if attendance at this gathering is anything to go by, the vote in favour of secession may be in serious trouble.

According to some observers, Kilmarnock, a down-on-its-luck manufacturing town in the west of Scotland, should be a pro-independence heartland. The economically depressed, so the theory goes, are more likely to vote for change.

Shooting back in time

Naperville, Illinois

By Jim Young

I am not much of a history fan and definitely wouldn’t describe myself as a Civil War aficionado… I actually had to remind myself of the dates of the fighting before I went to cover a U.S. Civil War reenactment in Naperville, Illinois this month.

But as I walked up to the Naper Settlement open-air museum to photograph the event, and passed by former U.S. President Abraham Lincoln – or at least a man dressed up to look just like him – I figured I must be in the right place.

About an hour’s drive from Chicago, people were settling in for “Civil War Days,” featuring re-enacting of a battle scene from the war. Participants dressed in period costumes to fight it out as North and South and spectators came to watch.

More than a leg to stand on

Sao Paulo, Brazil

By Nacho Doce

Alexandre Toledo, age 36, plays soccer with his amateur team every Saturday in the fields around Sao Paulo. He’s one among 22 players on the pitch, but he’s the only one with just one leg.

 

Alexandre, a former professional player for a soccer club in Minas Gerais state, injured his left leg in 1996 in a motorcycle accident while vacationing on the coast. He struggled for a year to regain use of the limb, but in 1997, with the support of his father, he made the difficult decision to have it amputated.

 “My father looked me in the eyes and said, ‘Alexandre, the decision is yours and it’s not an easy one. If you decide to amputate the leg I want you to lift your head up and get out and live your life. It’s no use hanging your head and crying over it just because you still have us, because we won’t be around forever.’”

Inside Casino Royale

Monte Carlo, Monaco

By Eric Gaillard

Almost nine months after my initial request to photograph inside the Monte Carlo Casino, the gold-leaf backdrop for fictional British spy James Bond in “Casino Royale”, I was contacted for an interview to present my project and three months later received news that is was accepted.

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

Perched above the Mediterranean Sea to the east of the French Riviera, Monaco is synonymous with the glamour brought by Hollywood actress Grace Kelly, whose marriage made her Princess Grace, the roar of Formula 1 motor racing cars in the streets of the principality, luxury shops and its famous Casino, where gamblers win or lose at the turn of the roulette wheel, the luck of the cards at the blackjack tables, or with the one-armed bandits.

REUTERS/Eric Gaillard

During the Casino’s off hours, I entered a world unto itself, meeting craftsman in their workshops and employees who maintain the Belle Epoque rooms, restaurant and bar for the players. What a shock to see gambling chips and plates worth 200,000 euros displayed in a row on a gaming table of green baize. I met the doormen, parking valets, card dealers, electromechanical engineers, technicians, salon cleaners, waiters, the head chef, barmen, cashiers, a physionomist, cabinetmakers and croupiers who together form this often invisible staff who work with precision and professionalism to give the Monte Carlo Casino its worldwide reputation for excellence.

China’s sea burials

Shanghai, China

By Carlos Barria

Before Li Zhenxuan died at the age of 101, the former chief officer of a riverboat told his son he wanted to be buried at sea with his mother, who passed away in 1965, and his wife, who died in 1995.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

On a rainy Saturday this month, his son released three bags of ashes into the wind and sea from a boat near the mouth of the Yangtze River, and Li’s final wish was granted. Faced with a growing population, soaring property prices and increasingly scarce land resources, the Chinese government has been trying for years to convince more people to break with tradition and bury loved ones at sea, like Li. The practice has been slow to catch on. Many older Chinese oppose cremation and prefer to be buried beside ancestors, according to tradition, ideally on a verdant hillside with the proper ‘feng shui’.

REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Attitudes are changing as China’s urban population expands, but still the number of sea burials is a drop in the ocean. For Li, the decision was simple, said his son, who wished to remain anonymous. “He said: ‘I don’t want to leave you trouble’,” his son recalled. The family kept the ashes of his mother and wife in urns at home until he died. “He wanted to set an example, one that future generations would follow.”