Photographers' Blog

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures February 27, 2011

The World's gaze at events in the Middle East was broken last week after an earthquake of 6.3 destroyed many buildings in Christchurch, New Zealand; the death toll now stands at 147 with 200 still missing. This was the latest disaster covered by Tim Wimborne. In recent weeks he has been to Toowoomba and Brisbane for the floods, Cairns for the typhoon Yasi and now NZ to cover the earthquake.  Tim worked closely with stringer Simon Baker to produce a file that saddens the heart, buildings normally seen on holiday postcards now forming the tombs of those who have died and as yet have not been pulled from the rubble. For me one of the strongest images is that of a  man picking through the rubble of what was once his home. With Tim's birds-eye view we see that nothing is really worth saving amid the dust and rubble, a photograph, a smashed lamp and a model boat.

NEWZEALAND-QUAKE/

Resident of the beach-side suburb of New Brighton, Julian Sanderson, searches for personal items through the remains of his house, destroyed by Tuesday's earthquake, in Christchurch February 25, 2011. International rescue teams searched through the rubble of quake-ravaged Christchurch on Friday for more than 200 people still missing, but rain and cold were dimming hopes of finding more survivors in the country's worst natural disaster in decades.  REUTERS/Tim Wimborne

NEWZEALAND/QUAKE

A rescue worker (R) looks through the rubble of the Cathedral of Blessed Sacrament in Christchurch February 24, 2011. International rescuers intensified their search for earthquake survivors in New Zealand on Thursday, spurred on by reports of a faint female voice heard beneath a collapsed church, even as the official death toll of 71 looked certain to climb. REUTERS/Simon Baker

In China the word Jasmine has taken on a new meaning. For most it means a flower or tea; to the authorities it means dissent and potential danger to the given order. Social networkers have called for a "Jasmine Revolution" in China inspired by the demonstrations in the Middle East. The government's response was swift, crushing any demonstrations, which are now planned on a weekly basis. The word Jasmine was blocked on the China internet as was the professional social network service LinkedIn. Photographers Carlos Barria, David Gray and Aly Song were quickly onto the streets to cover the demonstrations being snuffed out by the authorities. Communist party officials' were quick to blame the unrest on "hostile western forces". What fascinates me about these three pictures is the calm look on the faces of the protesters. I suppose one has to wonder if these lone activists have been released from custody and if not what conditions they are being held under now and for how long.

CHINA-POLITICS/INTERNET 

A man is arrested by police after internet social networks called to join a "Jasmine Revolution" protest in front of the Peace Cinema in downtown Shanghai February 20, 2011. Chinese President Hu Jintao called on Saturday for stricter government management of the Internet while calls for gatherings inspired by uprisings in the Middle East spread on Chinese websites abroad. The messages have scant chance of inspiring protests in China whose one-party government has plenty of censorship controls in place and where most Chinese have difficulty gaining access to overseas websites because of a censorship "fire wall." REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Embedded in Afghanistan

Reuters photographer Finbarr O’Reilly recently spent a month with the U.S. First Battalion Eighth Marines in southern Afghanistan’s Helmand province. While embedded at the remote Outpost Kunjak with the unit’s Third Platoon’s, Fourth Squad, O’Reilly documented camp life, patrols and combat operations, including one battle that saw four squad members suffer concussions from grenade explosions, including squad leader Sgt. Thomas James Brennan. This is Sgt. Brennan’s personal account of that day, and his reflections on what it is like living and fighting on the front lines of Afghanistan’s war.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A Week in Pictures 14 November 2010

A salute to all those who managed to get pictures, text and video out of Myanmar (Burma) of the release of Nobel Peace Prize winner and pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi, a truly historic moment.  No foreign journalists were given visas to cover the election or Suu Kyi's release and there's no Internet.  Respect to you all.

MYANMAR-SUUKYI/

Aung San Suu Kyi (C) waves to supporters gathered to hear her speech outside the headquarters of her National League for Democracy party in Yangon November 14, 2010. Pro-democracy leader Aung San Suu Kyi called on Sunday for freedom of speech in army-ruled Myanmar, urged thousands of supporters to stand up for their rights, and indicated she may urge the West to end sanctions.  REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

MYANMAR-SUU KYI/

Aung San Suu Kyi speaks with supporters after she was released from house arrest in Yangon November 13, 2010. REUTERS/Soe Zeya Tun

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.

Congo on the wire

Finbarr O’Reilly talks to the CBC about his coverage of the Democratic Republic of Congo and his photographic exhibition “Congo on the Wire” that was displayed as part of the Contact Photography Festival in Toronto.

Hardship deepens for South Africa’s Poor Whites

SAFRICA-WHITES
Children walk through a squatter camp for poor white South Africans at Coronation Park in Krugersdorp, March 6, 2010. REUTERS/Finbarr O’Reilly

Sitting in a deck chair at a white South African squatter camp, Ann le Roux, 60, holds a yellowing photo from her daughter’s wedding day.

Taken not long after Nelson Mandela became the country’s first black president in 1994, it shows Le Roux standing with her Afrikaans husband and their daughter outside their home in Melville, an upmarket Johannesburg neighborhood.

South Africa’s child-rape epidemic

“Don’t ask me to smile, I don’t know how to smile,” says Fumana Ntontlo, as she poses for a portrait, hands folded in her lap, on the bed of her one-room shack in South Africa’s Khayelitsha township.

SOUTH-AFRICA/

The walls and roof of her tiny home are made from corrugated metal, insulated on the inside with splintered and stained plywood, from which hangs a faded blue fabric pouch holding several pairs of well-worn shoes. Some yellowed and curling magazine pictures are taped at eye-level and a lace curtain flutters in the breeze of a small window protected by metal burglar bars. A bare bulb hangs from the ceiling by a wire.

Ntontlo is a “survivor” – the word used by health workers to describe victims of sexual violence.

Congo On the Wire exhibition, Bayeux, France

When I first started reporting from Africa eight years ago, it was almost impossible to generate any interest in the Western media for a story about Congo. This was immediately following the 9/11 attacks on the United States and the world was still reeling in the aftermath.

The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have since dominated our news coverage and resources during the first decade of the millennium.

Even as Democratic Republic of Congo’s war-related death toll rose above a staggering five million, making it the most lethal conflict since World War Two, the war in Central Africa remained largely unnoticed and under-reported.

Finbarr from the field

On Jan. 14 Reuters hosted a live video Q&A with our renowned photographer Finbarr O’Reilly about his experiences in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Finbarr addressed what drew him to Africa and the most difficult aspects of being a photographer in a war zone.

Finbarr is still available to answer questions, submit them in the comments section below or send a Twitter message with the hash tag “#finbarr” .

LIVE CHAT: Finbarr O Reilly

Follow the latest updates

Check out “Death all around,” his multimedia report from a Congolese refugee camp, dispatches from Chad and Afghanistan, selected photos from his portfolio, and an audio slideshow from his most recent Congo assignment.

Death all around

A Congolese refugee in a tattered baseball cap, worn clothes and blue flip-flops begged me for a cigarette at Kibati, a camp for 65,000 people displaced by fighting in eastern Congo.

I scolded him, saying smoking was bad for his health, as if anything could be worse for your health than living in this conflict-racked corner of Democratic Republic of Congo.

Machine gun fire erupted nearby and people dived for cover, ducking into rows of flimsy tents made from torn sheets of white plastic stretched over sticks.

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