Photographers' Blog

From Madrid to heaven

By Sergio Perez

There is a local proverb which goes, “De Madrid al Cielo” (From Madrid to heaven). Coinciding with efforts to illustrate a story on energy reform, I thought I’d try to show the phrase is actually quite true. For weeks we solicited access to four of the Spanish capital’s tallest skyscrapers at a business complex known as “Four Towers” (“Cuatro Torres”) which includes the the PwC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) Tower.

The PwC Tower, named after the company that rents most of the office space in a building owned by Spanish construction company Sacyr, is the third tallest skyscraper in Madrid and it is the sixth tallest in Europe with 58 floors soaring to 236 meters (774 feet) high.

We were finally given access to photograph from the 53rd floor, the highest floor in public use as the final five floors house equipment such as air conditioning and heating systems as well as other operational material. The building is home to a five-star hotel and the headquarters of the well known audit firm.

I was accompanied on my way up by a security guard so I was able to use the fastest lift in the building, which is only available to internal personnel and emergency workers. Heading to the top we traveled at an average of nine meters per second. Upon arriving at the top I was greeted by a strong wind which pummeled my body, especially my face. Despite the time of the year, late Spring, the weather up until then had been cold and rainy, but on this occasion I was in luck: it was warm and sunny.

The sighting deck was surrounded by portholes, providing a good photographic vantage point. I had never seen my hometown from such a perspective. Flying in to land at Madrid’s Barajas airport does not provide the same view, as the landing route doesn’t take them over the center of the city.

They came… we saw… she conquered…

The State visit to Britain by French President, Nicolas Sarkozy and his wife, Carla Bruni drew widespread attention not the least from the massed ranks of photographers and televison crews keen to record the couple’s every step.  No cliche was left unturned as members of the press vied with one another to describe their partnership.

But… a state visit by a French President would always draw interest, and with the added glamour angle you had a winning formulae.  The drab world of formal visits was to be given a makeover - I for one hoped so. In my view, the visit was not so much a breath of fresh air blowing away the cobwebs, but a mix of contrasting elements standing together. With this visit we hoped to  see contrasts of age, style and appearance. In addition the sense of anticipation was heightened because the people involved represented the historic differences between the English and the French. Would they come together in a new entente cordiale? Would the charge be led by the French President? Not on your life, it was led by his wife, the amabassador extraordinaire.

Did Carla Bruni-Sarkozy disapoint? Here are the photographs, judge for yourselves.

Back on the Taiwan Killer media bus

On my way back from a routine election assignment in Hsinchu, a fellow wire photographer quizzes me on my age.

“Errr… 26″ I reply and the other wire photographer goes “Wah sey!” which translates as something like “Whoa” if there is such a word in english. He proceeds to to tell me that he can’t remember where he was when he was 26.

Which is probably also why Russell, the Asia Chief photographer, asked me to write about my newbie experience operating and planning my first big team story,  namely the Taiwan presidential election won by Nationalist candidate, Ma ying-jeou.