Photographers' Blog

Witnessing the Nairobi mall massacre

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Nairobi, Kenya

By Goran Tomasevic

(Editor’s Note: Goran Tomasevic is a veteran war photographer, covering conflict for over 20 years in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria. As Reuters chief photographer for East Africa, Goran is now based in Nairobi, Kenya. This is his story of the attack on the Westgate shopping center on September 21, 2013.)

I was at home when I heard from a friend about something happening, but we weren’t sure what it was. I went to the Westgate mall and saw some bodies lying in the car park and realized it was serious. I saw some police so I hid behind the cars to take cover and slowly got closer to the gate.

An injured child was being pushed in a supermarket trolley. The woman said to me, “Please, take this child”. But the police jumped in and helped her. I took some pictures and then saw a couple of plainclothes and regular police. I asked when they would be moving and they said they were going to try and enter the shopping mall from the top. I went with them.

In the parking lot there were a lot of dead bodies and a lot of injured people with blood everywhere. There were people hiding and screaming and asking for help. I tried to help but I couldn’t do much because the ambulance was arriving and I wasn’t sure exactly what to do.

I saw this younger guy who was hit by shrapnel. His leg was broken, but he wasn’t bleeding that heavily. I didn’t want to move him and make it worse. If I started helping, I could do something wrong. I am not a doctor. I just tried to calm him down. I said, “The medics are coming. You will be alright. You are okay.”

Helpless in an explosion’s wake

Kabul, Afghanistan

By Omar Sobhani

Last Friday was a public holiday here in Afghanistan but I was on call and had gone for lunch in Kabul with my friends. Our relaxing day was interrupted by a huge explosion.

It took little time to figure out what was going on. As on most days, working or not, I carry my cameras so I jumped in my car and rushed towards the noise. My colleague Mohammad Ismail, who was enjoying a day off also, heard the explosion and called me as I headed towards the scene saying that he was coming to help cover the story. I spoke to my text and TV colleagues at Reuters bureau although the sound of the attack was too loud to hear easily but they were well aware of the incident.

As a safety measure I kept colleagues in the bureau informed of our plans and movements.

“I felt like it was the end of the world”

Beirut, Lebanon

By Maria Semerdjian

Joziane Shedid – that was her name.

After a difficult search, we had managed to identify the blood-soaked young woman in a picture taken by Reuters photographer Hasan Shaaban in the wake of a powerful bomb explosion in Beirut.

We found it difficult to identity the girl because at first we didn’t realize she was the older sister of Jennifer Shedid, another bomb victim Hasan photographed that fateful day, who was even more severely injured and almost lost her life.

We searched from clinic to clinic and finally found out that the young woman we were looking for was at the Lebanese Canadian Hospital. When we arrived, we saw Jennifer’s mother and asked if she knew the girl from the photograph. “That’s my daughter,“ she replied immediately, and pointed over at Joziane.

Flashback to the Bali blasts of 2002

By Beawiharta

A ceremony to remember the victims of a bomb blast that struck a busy street on a Saturday night in 2002, killing 202 people.

Today’s ceremony carried me back to 10 years ago, where shops were burned and damaged. The bomb had left a big hole in Legian Street. That Sunday morning in 2002 was bright, with good weather and a blue sky as I entered Kuta beach’s Hard Rock Hotel. It was a different atmosphere; the situation wasn’t relaxing on the resort island. It was on high alert with security personnel covering the streets. Police, local security people called “pecalang” always asked for ID. If someone didn’t have ID, they couldn’t enter the hotel area or walk the streets.

I arrived at the bomb blast site shortly after landing from Jakarta but the destroyed area was already closed off by police. Security was very tight and no one could enter the bomb blast area so I went to the hospital, to try to get access to the victims. The hospital was not a comfortable place to be, especially after the violence of the night before. There were many burned bodies lying on the floor covered with white fabric, and the smell was bad. It’s already been 10 years since that day but some of the visuals of the 2002 Bali bombing are still in my mind.

Photographer vs. wild cow

By Joseba Etxaburu

I’m a fireman and photo stringer for Reuters. I have been coming to the San Fermin festival for the past 12 years.

Every year I try to find new images and new ways to tell the stories we see. One of the events I usually cover is the release of wild cows into the bullring following the running of the bulls. A young cow chases revelers around knocking them down and occasionally tossing them.

SLIDESHOW: RUNNING OF THE BULLS

Looking for a different angle, for a while I have been going into the ring with a wide angle lens – getting as close to the action as possible while keeping an eye on the cow, which is very fast and often pretty bad tempered. On Thursday, I hadn’t really planned to go into the ring but Reuters photographer Susana Vera said she wanted to shoot the action with a long lens. I thought it wasn’t worth both of us doing the same type of pictures. So I went in.

The most painful story

EDITOR’S NOTE: Last Thursday, April 7, a gunman entered under a false pretext the Tasso da Silveira school in a Rio de Janeiro suburb, carrying two pistols and dozens of rounds of ammunition. An alumnus himself of the same school where he had a history of being bullied and mental illness, he lined children up facing the wall and shot two dozen of them, before turning the gun on himself. Twelve students were dead, and others are still agonizing in the hospital.

This is the most painful type of story for most photographers, when a senseless tragedy involves children. The two Reuters photographers who covered the shooting and subsequent funerals speak here of their experiences, and how they coped professionally and personally.

Sergio Moraes, 49, father of two, writes:

I woke up on April 7, the morning a gunman attacked students at Tasso da Silveira middle school, with a slight headache only hours after celebrating my son’s 18th birthday. A journalist from the newsroom called early to tell me that a man had entered a school in a Rio suburb and injured a few people. It sounded serious but since there were no apparent fatalities I called my colleague Ricardo, who was closer, and asked him to go to the school. It was only when I began to monitor my news sources that I realized we had a huge story on our hands, and I raced to Realengo, the middle class neighborhood where the school was. I called Ricardo and assigned him to the hospital as I arrived at the school.

Left teary-eyed after an onion attack

Onions have been a very important part of Indian history. Governments have fallen here over the price of onions. So last week when our commodities correspondent Rajendra Jadhav suggested a story on the skyrocketing prices of vegetables, onions seemed the natural peg. The idea was to do something simple around the price of a vegetable as it changes from the field to the dinner table. Our destination was the wholesale onion market in Nashik, Maharashtra, one of the highest producers of onions in the country. Nothing had prepared us for what we were about to encounter.

Female labourers work in an onion field in Pimpalgaon, 215 km (133 miles) north of Mumbai January 23, 2010.  REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

On Monday, prices of onions nose-dived over a ban on exports by the government and the arrival of new stock through imports. Unaware of this, we went to the onion market in Lasalgaon.

Upon reaching the location, both Rajendra and I got busy. I photographed the way onions were being loaded on small tractors. We then moved to the other side of the market where the auction was to take place. But here something unexpected happened – we were greeted by angry farmers who accused us, the media, of pushing prices down; we were the only two there at the time.