Photographers' Blog

Afghanistan – ten years of coverage

Kabul, Afghanistan

By Tim Wimborne

It’s now widely accepted that the latest war in Afghanistan has not gone well. As an intermittent visitor here over the past 10 years, several differences are visible to my western eyes, but I keep realising how much there still is in common with the Kabul of a decade ago.

I had not long been on staff at Reuters when I was given my first assignment in Afghanistan. That was the spring of 2004. Back then, there were perhaps more people of foot in the city and fewer cars. There were certainly not as many cell phones and Internet cafes as there are today.

Now, the country’s presidential election, which is supposed to mark the first democratic power-transfer in Afghanistan’s history, is just a few days away and heightened security ahead of the vote makes a big difference to the way Kabul looks. Security was also an issue in 2004, but the threat of violence was much less great, and I could travel outside the city without too much concern.

But other things haven’t changed. Although there’s more barbed wire and a 3G service has become available, overall infrastructure problems don’t appear to have reduced. As Kabul’s population has boomed, the roads and water supply don’t seem to have advanced at all.

Speaking to locals this week, they talk of the same problems they did back then too: corruption, lack of quality healthcare, and problems finding good schools and jobs for their children. Many still wish to emigrate to Western countries.

Heartbreak in Kenya

WARNING: CONTAINS GRAPHIC CONTENT

Garsen, Tana Delta, Kenya

By Siegfried Modola

When I got into photography and started my career as a freelance documentary photojournalist at the age of 29, I had to decide to either move from Kenya, the country where I lived and grew up for most of my life, or to stay.

I believe the latter choice has made an important difference in the way I perceive, follow and conceptualize the stories that I work on. Kenya feels like home. I know the region and speak the language. I feel an intimate connection with the country that comes with having a history with the place, years of building relationships and having enough time to go in-depth in my work.

As one of the most important elections of the country’s history is approaching on March 4, 2013, with the outcome determining Kenya’s path for years to come, I decided to cover the inter-communal violence that seems to be intensifying in some regions.

Chasing Obama

By Jason Reed

What a difference four years makes for someone running again for President of the United States.

Barack Obama hit the campaign trail in 2012 wearing two hats… one as the incumbent President, and one as a candidate for re-election.

Whether it’s from 35,000 feet aboard Air Force One or in a motorcade through the streets of Manhattan, Reuters White House photographer Jason Reed offers a view from behind the tinted windows of Obama’s 2012 Presidential campaign.

A day with Mitt Romney

Reuters photographer Brian Snyder spent a day behind the scenes with Mitt Romney, documenting his campaign.

By Brian Snyder

Photographing Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney as he campaigns across the United States is often about trying to find the candidate amongst all of the supporters and entourage around him. We see him at rallies surrounded by hundreds or thousands of enthusiastic supporters, at off the record stops in an uncontrolled swirl moving around a restaurant among unsuspecting diners, in a motorcade of a dozen vehicles, and on airport tarmacs while a parade of staff, security and press load onto the campaign plane. We are always in a crowd with more photographers, U.S. Secret Service agents and campaign staff all working in small spaces.

GALLERY: A day with Mitt Romney

But stepping one layer inside that, to document a “day in the life” of the candidate and the campaign, revealed an unexpected calm.  Governor Romney spent time talking to one or two advisors, joked in a room alone with his closest aide, and watched a video feed by himself as he was introduced to take the stage at a rally. There was space.

Front row at the Sarkozy show

By Philippe Wojazer

April 31, 2012
The day before French President Nicolas Sarkozy’s last big political meeting.

During a rally one month earlier I had the idea to place a go-pro camera on a television arm to capture general views of Paris’s place de la Concorde. I went to the TV production team to ask if I could hang the small camera under their camera without disturbing their images. The problem is that if you put something on the end of their arm, you need to add some weight to the other end so it is balanced and can “fly” over the crowd. Balancing weight can be long work. The team were really helpful and at the end of the day, I had my go-pro camera fixed up-there.

When I returned the next morning they explained that a rescue helicopter had to land near the arm and that all the adjustments had to be redone. We also needed to clean the camera as it was covered with dust from the helicopter. It took us an hour to re-balance, clean and check the go-pro settings (timed to take a picture every 10 seconds). I explained to the technician how to start the camera. Later, when I was among the crowd, I tried to see if the little red light was blinking every 10 seconds. I wasn’t sure it had worked until I got the camera back and saw it had taken more than 1500 pictures.

An accordion for Ablogin

By Vasily Fedosenko

To Vladimir Ablogin, it may still seem like a fairy tale, but as he touches his new squeezebox “garmoshka” accordion, which had covered thousands of miles to find him in his dilapidated wood hut, he knows what has happened is real.

I arrived in his run-of-the-mill Russian village in the Smolensk region at Belarus’s border on an early December morning to take pictures of local peasants voting in Russia’s parliamentary election. Looking like it was still from the Soviet era, the election day soon turned into a rare holiday in this backwater settlement, which was until recently prosaically named “Gryaz” (Mud).

Paying little heed to my presence and already warmed up with Russia’s national tipple, a bare-footed Ablogin sat on a bed in his higgledy-piggledy home, playing a traditional Russian “garmoshka” button accordion to amuse his audience of several women and men.

Portraits of Russian voters

By Will Webster

Russia goes to the polls on March 4, in a presidential election that present Prime Minister and former two term President Vladimir Putin is widely expected to win. Russian politics is a strange beast, opaque is the most constructive word to describe the process of moving and shaking that goes on in the corridors of power. A whole class of analytical Kremlinologists aim to shed light on the minutiae of the process, although opinions widely differ, and the outcome appears to be the same – 6 more years of Putin in top spot. In this atmosphere behind closed doors, with one outcome highly probable, it’s difficult to illustrate the campaign trail, if such a thing exists. However in this story of same old, same old, there is a group of individuals that stand out, that no one seems to ask about: the Russian people – they are the ones that cast the votes. People like Anatoly, an artist from Moscow.

Following a parliamentary election in December, one of the typical plays of allegiance shifting and maneuvering in the top levels of the power vertical something changed. Widespread claims of vote falsification brought out around 5,000 people onto the street in Moscow, a show of opposition to the authorities that hasn’t been seen for years. The movement grew, organized and strenghtened in the fertile fields of social networks. It provided leaders that in principal have no political leverage apart from a following online. People like Alexey Navalny, anti corruption blogger, and Yevgrnia Chirikova, an environmental activist battling the destruction of her local forest to make way for a new highway. Would they be able to maintain their voice of protest and public displays of opposition throughout the winter (a bigger problem for those not aware of it – ask the Grande Armee of 1812) in order to make a difference in the presidential vote? The protests did grow, a couple more followed, the numbers swelled – up to 100,000 came out to call for fair elections in January. The authorities seemed to be at a loss on how to snuff out this unplanned voice of opposition. Official plans were immediately drawn up to make the voting process more transparent, webcams in polling stations, symbolically see-through ballot boxes. Still, the unrest persisted. Another strategy was started – organized supporter events for United Russia, let the people know (on state run television networks) that actually most people are with Putin. By necessity these shows of support must be more impressive than that of these Muscovites wearing white condoms (Putin’s initial response when the white ribbons appeared on the street).

Aha – we have an angle, the people are moving, thousands and thousands of them, showing their support with their feet. But rather than faceless pawns, they are real people. People who want their vote to count.

On the campaign trail with the Underdog

By Jessica Rinaldi

Every four years we photographers load our suitcases with layers of warm clothes and head to the Granite State to photograph the political frenzy that is the New Hampshire Primary. New Hampshire and Iowa are considered by many to be retail politics at their best, the states where candidates get on the ground to talk with voters, and local residents have the unique chance to see who the candidates are. It’s an opportunity for the candidates to test out their talking points and fine tune their campaign strategy, to see what floats.

While all of that is well and good in the warm summer months at the beginning of their journey, by the time that chilly spotlight turns from Iowa to New Hampshire they tend to have already become well-seasoned politicians. It is with that knowledge that we head to New Hampshire, where we know that we will be composing other photographers in or out of our shots depending on the story and jostling for position in front of the diner booth, factory worker, rotary club member, or veteran that happens to call to us at one of the many campaign events we shoot throughout the day. At least, that’s what I had figured I would do this time around.

Enter U.S. Presidential candidate and former Utah governor Jon Huntsman, the only major candidate I’ve ever seen drive to his own campaign events. Huntsman, who skipped out on the Iowa caucus in favor of focusing all of his efforts on New Hampshire has done over 150 campaign events in this state but curiously only seems to have found his stride just now.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A week in Pictures 7 November 2010

A continual struggle with writing this blog is trying to keep it picture led and not wander off into the top stories from the week that may not have produced the best pictures. This week in Asia we have seen the arrival of U.S President Obama in India, U.S Secretary of State Hilary Clinton doing the rounds, the first election in Myanmar for 20 years (no prizes as to who will win though) not one, but two Qantas jets getting into engine difficulty, the continuing tensions between Japan and China, the failed bid by BHP Billiton to take over of Potash, currency woes as we prepare for G20 in Seoul later this week and let's not forget Afghanistan and bombs in Pakistan. So where to start?  Mick Tsikas produced my favourite picture of the week, a fan at the Melbourne Cup; one can only admire the oral control it takes to shout in celebration while holding firmly onto a lit cigarette.  I thought this was a skill that died out with the passing of Humphrey Bogart.

HORSE RACING/MELBOURNE

A race-goer cheers as jockey Gerald Mosse of France rides Americain to victory in the Melbourne Cup at the Flemington Racecourse in Melbourne November 2, 2010. REUTERS/Mick Tsikas

In Indonesia the stark realities of living in the shadow of an erupting volcano continue to be brought home by Beawiharta. Try as I might I could not edit out any of these four pictures.  So with cries of "overfile ovefile" ringing in my ears I will shamelessly re-publish.  Wearing a hat to protect yourself from the hundreds of tonnes of hot ash raining down, you've been made homeless and the air is filled with dust and smoke - what do you do? Light up - a perfect moment caught as life stoically goes on. The strong diagonal lines and planes of tone in perfect monochromatic harmony.

A break in choreography on the campaign trail

On tightly-choreographed campaign trails there aren’t many photo moments that haven’t been carefully planned beforehand by spin doctors, so when Gordon Brown made an impromptu visit to a hair salon in Oldham, there was a ripple of excitement.

Britain's Prime Minister Gordon Brown accepts an invitation from Sue Fink to visit her hair salon as he speaks at the Honeywell Community Centre in Oldham, northwest England April 28, 2010.  REUTERS/Suzanne Plunkett

Such unscripted moments create great opportunities for photographers because they offer a glimpse of reality and inject a human element into often monotonous days of speeches, handshakes and platitudes.

Brown had been pressed into visiting the Academy hair salon by owner Sue Fink, a brassy woman who wouldn’t take no for an answer when she collared Brown at a community centre. Brown, appearing embarrassed, mumbled his consent.