Photographers' Blog

One week in the life of a photojournalist

Deggendorf, Germany

By Wolfgang Rattay

Being a news photographer and a senior photo editor is never boring. The past seven days will, I think, impressively explain what I am talking about.

Last Saturday I went to Munich to edit Germany’s soccer cup final (the DFB Pokal). I finished at midnight after looking at some 3,000 files of which about 60 images hit our services following Bayern Munich’s historic “Treble” – victory in the Champions League, the national soccer championships and the Cup.

Early Sunday morning I went to Munich’s famous square Marienplatz to reserve a spot for my Reuters TV colleagues and myself at a podium in front of the balcony where the team was expected to show up a couple of hours later. I took an early picture of a hard-core bare-chested Bayern fan who had been waiting since 9am for the 5pm show. It had been raining all day and the thermometer reached a maximum of 7 degree Celsius (44 degrees Fahrenheit).

The team was expected at 2pm but didn’t show up before 4pm. It was raining cats and dogs. When they finally left the balcony an hour later all my gear, including myself, was totally soaked. It was a disaster for everyone (except our hardcore fan).

On Monday I was supposed to have a day off but due to the never-ending rain, I was sent to cover the floods at the junction of the three rivers Danube, Inn and Ilz in the southeastern Bavarian city of Passau. Tuesday morning Chancellor Merkel, bidding for re-election in Germany’s general elections, visited the flooded city of Passau.

50,000 images, 250 matches, 2 weeks, 1 champion

Melbourne, Australia

By Rob Dawson

Yummy, Fried Egg and Scrambled Eggs

Now that your appetites are whet I am going to disappoint you. This isn’t a blog about food.

Growing up in Melbourne you might think tennis was a big part of my life, with the first slam of the year being held every year in the city, but I don’t come from that Melbourne. I grew up in a small market town in Derbyshire in Britain. My experience of tennis growing up involved playing on this court and ones similar. Luckily the poorly maintained surface and nets did not quell my enthusiasm for the sport. I would often rush home from school so I could watch Wimbledon on the television while eating home picked strawberries and cream.

My first experience at editing tennis was in 2005. Within my first two months working at Reuters, I was assigned to be a processor at Wimbledon. I was ecstatic when I found out. Then on the first day my smile dropped. Over the next two weeks I went through one of my steepest learning curves in my career so far. The sheer amount of pictures taken, sent to clients and the tennis matches covered were eye-opening.

Editing the Euro 2012

By Wolfgang Rattay

If you’re really interested in understanding how we at Reuters work as a team across Europe to make sure that the right pictures from the Euro 2012 soccer championships arrive in time at hundreds of online sites and the next day in the papers, read this insight. You will understand that everyone in the team is an important cog in the machine and that not everything is someone sitting in the right corner of the pitch and triggering the camera’s shutter. If you read until the end, you will be rewarded with Amanda’s secret “spell-checker” recipe. It’s worth it — but only if you don’t have any health issues with your stomach.

SLIDESHOW: BEST OF EURO 2012

At each game we have five photographers assigned to cover the match. Four are seated, preferably, in each far corner of the pitch near the corner pole and the fifth shooter has an elevated position in the middle of the tribune – more or less at the same position as the main TV cameras. The ‘tribune photographer” shoots with three cameras. Two cameras are equipped with a 70-200mm zoom lens and aimed at both penalty boxes to make sure we have the image that tells the story of the game. This can be a goal, a penalty or a disallowed goal like in the England-Croatia match. The third camera is hand-held with either a four, five or six-hundred mm lens to shoot clear action (with green grass and no advertising boards), reactions of coached players and what ever else happens on the pitch.

The pitch shooters have to operate three hand-held cameras with 400/500 or 600mm, one with a 70-200mm zoom and a third body with a 16-35 in case there’s a goal celebration just a meter in front of the photographer. On top of this, the pitch photographer has to trigger a foot-switch on a fourth (sometimes fifth camera) that is connected to a goal camera that is positioned just a yard or so behind the goal. Look for the cameras set-up behind the goal mouth next time it appears close on TV. These 19 cameras at least, for each game adds up to an average minimum of 4,000 to 5,000 frames that someone has to look at. One of these “someones” is me. But there is also another editor involved that is as important (if not more) as the photographer. This is the person known as the processor.

Editing thousands of cricket pictures a day

Sports and Action photography is all about timing. It’s about reacting. It’s about being in the right place at the right time and it’s about execution.

India's Gautam Gambhir is bowled by Sri Lanka's Thisara Perera during their ICC Cricket World Cup final match in Mumbai April 2, 2011.                          REUTERS/Philip Brown

These are all qualities of the athlete and those of the photographer covering them as well. Each sport has predictable and unpredictable moments. For instance, in cricket, photographers will have opportunities to capture jump shots, players diving to make the crease, diving to take a catch, diving to field the ball, a bowler leaping in the air as he bowls, a batsman screaming in joy on reaching his century, etc. Understanding the timing of these predictable actions allows a photographer to capture the peak moment; when the action is most dramatic.

Before I start editing I always have a brief chat with the photographers about what could be the day’s great picture. The staff never fail to deliver and meet expectations. I briefed two photographers covering matches from the quarter-finals onwards not to forget to look for emotion in the players and the fans. A good number of the best shots come from the crowd. I received a bunch of nice pictures of the crowd from the final.

The 2004 tsunami: A Singapore perspective

“Where were you when the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami hit?”

For me, it is a day I will always remember. I had barely been working as a picture sub-editor on the Asia Desk for a month. I remember being asked to come in early to work that Sunday morning because “an earthquake had hit and it seems quite bad”.

Reaching the office, I watched my television colleagues collect their gear, make phonecalls and fly off on the next flight to Aceh, one of the places reported as being badly hit. The newsgathering process was still very new to me, so I watched with fascination as photographers were alerted, flights were arranged and notes were made to keep track of where each shooter was.

QUAKE INDIA

A man reacts next to a building that was destroyed when a tsunami hit in Cuddalore, 180 km (112 miles) south of the southern Indian city of Madras December 27, 2004.  REUTERS/Arko Datta