Photographers' Blog

Cyprus, it’s all Greek to me

Nicosia, Cyprus

By Yorgos Karahalis

I’ve been working in the media industry since 1986 and I can’t recall the last time Cyprus, the small divided Mediterranean island, attracted so much attention since the 1974 invasion by Turkey, which stills keep the island and its residents separated.

A decision by the European Union for a “haircut” on deposits in all Cypriot banks made the country one of the top stories in the region and across the world. Various scenarios for Cyprus’s financial meltdown appeared everywhere.

After the vote by the Cypriot parliament, who delivered a loud ‘No’ to the proposal to seize depositors’ money, and the government’s decision to close banks all over the island to avoid a bank run, the idea of a violent uprising started gaining traction. The capital Nicosia, with its population of just 300,000 people, saw journalists, TV crews, photographers and famous analysts drinking coffee on the pedestrian Ledras street in the old part of town.

The tiny Eleftherias square at the end of that street was occupied by TV crews who were preparing for the big day – the day the banks would reopen. “There will be blood”, the title of a film starring Daniel Day Lewis, resonated in my mind.

As a Greek photographer who has been through all the nasty riots over the last two years since the crisis broke out in Greece, I could not see any signs of the forecasted Cypriot version. Many Cypriots consider themselves Greeks. They share the same National Anthem, they are Orthodox and of course they speak Greek.

On the French poverty precipice

Juan Les Pins, France

By Eric Gaillard

Several days prior to the winter truce for evictions in France for people who are behind on their rent, I asked myself how I could illustrate and make contacts with people who could help. The local associations I spoke with seeking help to make contact with those in precarious living situations were not helpful as they saw this as voyeurism, that these individuals were ashamed and would not permit a photographer to follow them.

Thinking that the story idea had hit a dead end, a local elected official from Antibes, 30 kms (18 miles) from Nice, informed me that he took care of people in precarious situations. At their local offices I studied their listing to learn that a man was living in an underground carpark in nearby Juan Les Pins. The official and I contacted Paul to explain the reason of my reportage. He accepted my invitation to meet.

Paul and I met along the beachfront of this chic summer holiday tourist city on the French Riviera where he explained his story. In 2005 he suffered an injury, followed by an operation, which resulted in disability, forcing him out of work. Then his wife, who continued to work to support the couple, died. Without resources to pay his rent, he was evicted.

Spain’s pain

By Jon Nazca

SLIDESHOW: SPAIN’S AUSTERITY PAIN

I have taken a look back through the archives for the first pictures illustrating the crisis in Spain. It was a story about a protest of goat herders and farmers in Malaga in May 2008. They protested with their goats to demand measures from the government to solve the crisis they were facing.

Months later, Spanish truck drivers protested against the rising fuel costs paralyzing the country for several days.

Protests and demonstrations continued until the Spanish people woke up on May 15, 2011 with the 15-M movement, also known as The Indignants, protesting against the ongoing financial crisis, politicians and bankers. The Spanish Revolution began and with it came endless revolutionary images.

On your bike Greece

By Yorgos Karahalis

Anyone who rode a bicycle through the jammed Athens center a few years ago was either admired or called “the madman of the village,” as an old Greek saying goes.

It’s not like that anymore. “You’re no longer the madman of the village, you are a person inspiring others on how they could live in the chaotic Athenian center using a bike,” said Tolis Tsimoyannis, a 42-year-old bicycle importer and himself a biker.

The boom in Greece’s bicycle market started about four years ago and has maintained its upward trend, with small periods of steady sales due to political and financial unrest in the country.

A hopeless situation

By Cathal McNaughton

Time is running out for Natassa Papakonstantinou – by August she could be homeless.

What becomes depressingly apparent as we sit in her tastefully decorated apartment in a middle class suburb of Athens, is that there is no plan B. Last August, 43-year-old Natassa was finally laid off from her job in telecommunications – she hadn’t been paid a penny for the previous six months so she had been living off her savings and hoping for the best.

She was made redundant and now gets by on 461 euros she gets each month in state benefits plus what little is left of her dwindling savings. By August she has calculated that she will be penniless and, with no money to pay her rent, she could be homeless.

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