Photographers' Blog

Between “Jogo bonito” and riots on the streets

Salvador, Brazil

By Kai Pfaffenbach

Football is the sport I most like to photograph.

Almost everybody in Reuters knows that. When I was assigned to head to Brazil to cover the FIFA Confederations Cup one of my dreams came a little closer: covering a soccer match at Rio’s famous Maracana stadium. After almost two weeks of following the tournament’s group stage matches I haven’t seen the Maracana (that only happens for the final). But I have had the pleasure of traveling in a team of three with my colleagues Jorge Silva and Paulo Whitaker from Brasilia to Belo Horizonte, Fortaleza and Salvador. The stadiums look great, they are ready for the big event next year, the spectators are as enthusiastic as expected and so far we have seen good games with an outstanding Brazilian superstar Neymar and spectacular overhead kicks from Hulk.

But I have to admit that my attention has been taken away from the stadiums, organization and the games by the huge demonstrations across Brazil. It is very obvious that the people are not happy about how things are happening here and it seems solidarity for the cause is rising.

Some of these protests unfortunately turned into riots and violence. Being quite experienced with this and even used to rough police enforcement for the last few days I found myself outside the stadiums to cover the street fights before heading back in to cover the matches. The situation develops very quickly here. Most of the protesters were calm, only shouting slogans and holding up placards and flags but some of them were ready for trouble. Stones flew everywhere, barricades were set on fire and it turned into proper civil unrest.

The reaction of the police varied. In Fortaleza they threatened the media with fire arms. That was one of the most scary situations I have ever faced as a photographer. This didn’t happen to me in any war zone I have covered the past ten years but in Fortaleza a police officer pointed his pistol towards an AP colleague and myself to prevent us from taking pictures as police and national guard faced off against the protesters.

Police in Salvador reacted completely differently. They let the media move around and work without disturbing us at all despite the riots being a lot more violent. Police withstood a hail of stones and fired tear gas with their shotguns to block the protesters from marching to the stadium.

Under attack in Tahrir Square

Cairo, Egypt

By Amr Abdallah Dalsh

I was on assignment on the Turkish-Syrian border when I was asked to come back home to help the Cairo team as the situation in Egypt developed with protests and clashes.

I arrived in Cairo early yesterday morning and planned to go to Tahrir square later in the day. When I reached the scene of the clashes near the square, which has witnessed a lot of clashes in the last few days, I found some members of the riot police coming close to reaching protesters. The police and the protesters normally do a tit for tat (cat and mouse) sort of thing. Police sirens blared. Usually the protesters run away quickly when they hear that sound. It was obvious that there were about five or six riot police to the left of the vehicle and they wanted to hit back at protesters with stones the protesters were hitting them with. Those few riot police entered a building near the protesters.

The police vehicle started to go back, I guess without noticing that they’d left some of their officers behind. The protesters, noticing that those few police were far from their group, started to beat them very hard. I heard the protesters saying they’d got three of them, but I only saw two. The protesters threw everything they had at them – stones, glasses, logs – they were also slapping their faces. I could see blood coming out of policemen’s head. The protesters also started stripping them of their clothes and their vests and shields, helmets and shoes.

The trouble with Northern Ireland

Tradition is something that is celebrated, enjoyed and handed down to the next generation, but in the small corner of western Europe where I was born, it has led to shootings and bombings and the loss of thousands of lives.

For 16 years I’ve worked as a photographer covering β€˜The Troubles’ in Northern Ireland and in this time I’ve come to realize that what one side of the political and religious divide sees as celebration, the other sees as triumphalism.

The Twelfth of July parades are one such tradition that sparked disturbances on the streets of Belfast this week with rioters throwing petrol bombs and police responding with plastic bullets as Catholics and Protestants once again clashed.

Bloodied streets of Bishkek

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Kyrgyzstan-based photographer Vladimir Pirogov’s images of Wednesday’s violent clashes in Bishkek are examples of the power of photography in telling stories. Here are a selection of the best. Click here to view the slideshow of images.

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Men lay dead during clashes between riot police and anti-government protesters near the presidential administration in Bishkek.

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A protester carries a rocket propelled grenade and a riot shield during clashes with riot police in Bishkek.

Violence in South Africa: Audio slideshow

Reuters photographer Siphiwe Sibeko talks about his experiences capturing dramatic images of the outbreak of violence in South Africa.