Photographers' Blog

Covering the world’s biggest beer fest

By Michael Dalder and Kai Pfaffenbach

It’s 5am when my alarm clock rings and to be honest, my thoughts are more about coffee than beer.

However, I packed my gear and tried to get ready for the world’s biggest party, where tradition meets madness in Munich: The “Oktoberfest”.

It all started in 1810 when a rich banker hosted a horse race to honor the marriage of Crown Prince Ludwig and Princess Therese. Since then the fairground has been called “Theresienwiese”, where the Oktoberfest common name “Wies’n” stemmed from.

Now more than 6 million visitors from all over the world are expected to taste the special Oktoberfest beer, which is a lot stronger than the usual German drinks as it reaches up to 7% alcohol. Despite its name “Oktoberfest”, the big party always starts on the second last Saturday of September and will end by October 3.

For those interested in traditional Bavarian clothing the Oktoberfest is paradise – women and young girls wear the “Dirndl”, an old-fashioned dress sporting “décolleté”

F8 and be there?

Reuters reports “A Malaysian Muslim woman who will be caned next week for drinking beer has defiantly asked that the punishment be carried out in public in a case that is fuelling debate about tolerance in this multi-racial country. Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno will be the first Malaysian woman to be caned under Islamic laws applicable to Malaysia’s Muslims, who account for 60 percent of the 27-million population.”

Kartika Sari Dewi Shukarno chats with her son (R) Muhammad Azfar, 7, and daughter Wann Kaitlynn Sari Dewi, 5, at her father’s house in Sungei Siput, about 300km (186 miles) north of Kuala Lumpur, in Malaysia’s state of Perak, August 21, 2009.  REUTERS/Zainal Abd Halim

If Kartika is caned in public would you as a photographer (if it were up to you decide) go to the event and take pictures of this mother of two being beaten? And if you did how would you shoot those pictures, wide and in close, so close you could hear the crack of the cane on her body and hear her cries of pain? On a longer lens from a distance, more detached as a person but shooting tight pictures that you know will give the viewer every painful detail of the punishment? Or, finally, from a distance on a wide lens to show the crowd surrounding the scene? And once you have shot those images how will you edit? Would you sanitise them and not file the pictures that show Kartika suffering the most or would you feel that everyone should see what you had photographed, knowing that a morning daily family paper may not even use that image?