Photographers' Blog

Passing seven billion

By Jorge Silva

It was during my eternal search for unique moments to capture that I was witness to the most spectacular and magical event – the arrival of a new life.

The United Nations announced the pending birth of the planet’s inhabitant number 7,000,000 for October 31, and that gave me the chance to work on a series of photos that became the most emotional and satisfying of my career.

The moment a baby is born is doubtless one of the most intimate and special in the life of a woman and her family, and sharing that intimacy as a privileged observer was sensational. To live that experience without having become a father yet was even more moving.

All emotions came to the surface during the birthing. The most intense pain together with the most tender caresses and great joy, all played together during the demonstration of tireless work and strength of the medical staff. They were images of the efforts necessary to give birth, and the struggle for integral health.

Inside the maternity services in Caracas I focused my story on the contrasting visions of the public health system called Barrio Adentro (Into the Shantytowns) run by doctors from the Cuban mission in Guatire, in the slums of Caracas, and that of the Aquamater Clinic, a private hospital specializing in underwater birthing in Caracas’ wealthier east.

Moments between isolation

By Bobby Yip

Those who have visited Hong Kong know how packed the buildings are, how busy the traffic is and how quickly people walk. When there was a global photo project on the world’s population reaching 7 billion, the first image that came to my mind was Mong Kok – one of the most crowded places in the world. The Guinness World Records lists Mong Kok as having a population density of 130,000 per square km or 340,000 per square mile.

Unlike the two high class shopping districts for tourists, Causeway Bay on the island side and Tsim Sha Tsui in Kowloon Peninsula, complete with world famous fashion brands, Mong Kok has a more authentic feel of the territory. Here you will find older residential buildings, smaller stores of all kinds with tags displaying cheaper prices. It’s packed with people on the pavements, crossing the streets and even sitting on the ground.

I tried to illustrate my feelings by showing many of those walking past, isolated; seeing what happened within a split second of this isolation.

Jugderdem’s backyard

By Carlos Barria

Two-year-old Jugderdem Myagmarsuren opens the door of his tent to play with his plastic scooter in the backyard. He is accompanied by sheep and cows. This is not an ordinary backyard. It’s the Mongolian steppe, and his closest friends might live more than two kms (1.2 miles) away.

While the world’s population reached 7 billion on October 31st, 2011, Mongolia remains the least densely populated country on the planet, with 2.7 million people spread across an area three times the size of France. Two-fifths of Mongolians live in rural areas spread over wind swept steppes.

According to the National Population Center census of 2010, Mongolia’s population density increased by only 0.2 percentage points– to 1.7 persons per square kilometer—from the last census in 2000.

Jostling for space in Mumbai

By Danish Siddiqui

To live in the world’s second most populous country and city is itself an experience. When I was asked to do a feature story on the world’s population crossing the 7 billion mark, I realized it wasn’t going to be an easy task. This was simply because there were so many stories to tell in this city of dreams, Mumbai.

I chose to do a story on the living conditions of Mumbai’s migrant population who pour in to the city by the hour.

I decided to go to a slum which is inhabited mostly by migrants arriving from the northern part of India in search of a better future. Most of the migrants who live there work as taxi drivers and manual laborers. It was difficult to get access as they were always apprehensive of journalists. But I was able to convince a couple of them over a cup of tea after which they opened the doors of their one room world to me.

A village of eternal bachelors

By Vivek Prakash

With the world’s population set to hit 7 billion on October 31, photographers in India have been on the move to tell stories that talk about what those numbers really mean in a country as large as India – with 1.2 billion people and counting, this is supposed to be the world’s largest democracy.

When you take a closer look at the statistics, you find some surprising and scary figures – the ratio of female children to males born actually declined here over the last 10 years – from 933 females for every thousand males in the 2001 census, to just 914 in 2011. The combination of cheap portable ultrasound technology and a decades-old preference for male babies — who are seen as breadwinners — has enabled sex-selective abortions and made worse female infanticide. In a place as wide and as vast as India, these are things that are hard to control, no matter how illegal.

We had been trying to find ways to illustrate this for some time without much success – getting access to tell this story had been taking some time. Late last month, a story about a small village in Gujarat was brought to my attention.