Photographers' Blog

The Arafat-Rabin handshake 20 years on

By Gary Hershorn

There I was on Saturday, September 11, 1993 waiting for the U.S. Open women’s tennis final to start in New York when I received a call from my manager at the time, Larry Rubenstein, that I had to return to Washington the following night as soon as the men’s final was finished to help cover what he said was a big event Monday morning. “There is going to be an historic handshake and you need to be there so just get back to DC,” he said.

Word had come that PLO Chairman Yasser Arafat and Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin were going to attend the signing of the Israeli-PLO peace accord with President Clinton on the back lawn of the White House. I was told to do whatever I needed to in order to get out of New York on Sunday night after the men’s final and be at the White House at dawn Monday morning.

It was a great honor to be told by my boss that I would be the Reuters photographer on the main camera platform in front of the stage where the signing was taking place but before that happened, I had two tennis finals to photograph and make sure I actually arrived back in Washington on Sunday night before I could allow myself to start thinking about how I wanted to capture the historic moment.

For two days all I thought about was what would happen if the tennis final went five long sets and on Sunday night I missed my flight back to DC. How would I ever accept missing what was expected to be the biggest handshake in Washington since Israeli Prime Minister Menachem Begin shook Egyptian President Anwar Sadat’s hand with President Carter on the front lawn of the White House during their peace treaty signing in March 1979.

As I remember 20 years ago, Steffi Graf won the women’s title, Peter Sampras took care of Cedric Pioline in straight sets to win the men’s championship, the car service I hired to take me from the tennis center to La Guardia Airport worked perfectly, the flight wasn’t cancelled and I walked into my apartment about 11 p.m. Now came the fun part, two hours of getting all the equipment I needed ready for the morning event before getting a few short hours of sleep before the big event.

Riding the Moscow metro

Moscow, Russia

By Lucy Nicholson

London has the world’s oldest underground rail system; Tokyo’s metro has employees to push people into packed trains; New York’s subway is an ethnic melting pot. Hidden beneath the streets of Moscow is something completely different. To step onto the Moscow metro is to step back in time and immerse yourself in a museum rich in architecture and history.

Opened in 1935, it is an extravagant gallery of Communist design, full of Soviet artworks, Art Deco styling, statues, chandeliers, marble columns and ceiling mosaics.

GALLERY: INSIDE THE METRO

Built under Stalin by some of the best Soviet artists and architects, the metro transports 7-9 million people a day, more than London and New York combined. It costs 30 Rubles, around $1, for a single ride. We were given metro passes with our credentials when we arrived to cover the IAAF World Athletics Championships in Moscow. On the first day, I caught the metro back to our hotel with a group of Reuters photographers, when we missed the last media bus.

The German-French friendship

Near Weisskessel, Germany

By Fabrizio Bensch

Photos of significant gestures between two politicians often mirror the state of the relations between the two countries – and become part of our collective consciousness. As a photojournalist, I am often witness to politicians shaking hands or embracing as part of major engagements. Often it’s daily routine.


REUTERS/Bundesregierung/Guido Bergmann/Pool

However, these days if a German chancellor and a French president reach out for one another, this signifies an important development in international relations – and is a very significant symbol for a united Europe. Historically, relations were dominated by wars – for the generation of our grandfathers and grandmothers, seeing the other country as “the enemy” rather than a neighbor was a defining political and cultural force, which molded everyday actions and experiences.

At the borders where battles used to be fought, we can now pass through freely without immigration control and without having to switch currency. Rather than having francs and Deutsche Marks, French and Germans now both use the Euro. Trade is closely linked. When going shopping in a standard German supermarket, it’s possible to choose from baguettes, different French wines and a large selection of cheeses among other things. It is part of our normality; our everyday.

The game of the Eton elite

Eton, Britain

By Eddie Keogh

Wouldn’t it be lovely if we could step back in time? I know I never will but occasionally you come across a scene that has barely changed for hundreds of years. This was certainly the case when I visited Eton College this week to photograph the annual Eton Wall Game between The Collegers (scholarship holders) and The Oppidans (the fee paying pupils).

Sport doesn’t get more elite than this. It’s only played once a year, there is only one pitch of its kind in the world and you need to be a pupil at Eton College, one of the most exclusive public schools in the world. Bear in mind that this school has produced 19 British prime ministers including the present one, David Cameron. It’s highly possible that one of the boys in these pictures will enter Downing Street as Prime Minister one day.

The game has a long history here with the first recorded game taking place in 1766. It encompasses elements from both soccer and rugby, but the unusual bit is that it’s all played up against a brick wall 110 meters (yards) long and a pitch that is only 5 meters wide.

Guinea-Bissau: The weight of history

Gabu, Guinea-Bissau

By Joe Penney

When Guinea-Bissau is in the news, it’s almost always for the wrong reasons: coups d’état, assassinations, drug smuggling and extreme poverty.

Journalists like to cite the fact that since the tiny West African country switched to a multi-party system in 1995, no president has completed a full term. The country is often labeled a “narco-state” because of South American drug cartels using its islands and mainland as a waypoint for trafficking cocaine to Europe, even though its neighbors are dealing with the same problems.

But this reputation is rarely put into its historical context. After the Portuguese created what is modern-day Guinea-Bissau in 1890 when European powers divided the African continent at the Berlin Conference, they fought a 49-year-war of pacification against the local African communities resisting their rule.

The Faces of Merkel

By Thomas Peter

The Bundestag in Berlin, session 188. The plenum below the grand glass dome of the Reichstag building is buzzing with the voices of lawmakers who are to vote today on the ratification of Europe’s permanent bailout mechanism.

News photographers pluck the occasional picture from among the crowd with a timid click of their cameras. But everyone is waiting for Chancellor Angela Merkel.

A summit of EU leaders in Brussels has finished only hours earlier. A summit that Ms Merkel left as the defeated, after Spain and Italy cornered her into budging to their demand to use EU rescue fund money for the direct recapitalisation of banks, something that thus far had been a red rag for Germany.

Soccer and History

By Tony Gentile

It’s not the first time I have covered an international sport event and a soccer tournament. I was in Germany for the FIFA world cup in 2006, in Austria and Switzerland for Euro 2008 and now I’m covering Euro 2012 in Poland and Ukraine. Every time, I’ve followed Italy’s soccer team. It’s a interesting job but sometimes it can be repetitive. You spend about one month with the same people, your photo and text colleagues and the players. Everyday you cover a training session and news conference and travel around the country to cover the matches. C onstantly you have to try to find a different picture as well.
But sometimes something different turns up, in Poland we left soccer briefly and turned to history.

Like other national soccer teams, Italy also visited the Auschwitz former Nazi death camp in Oswiecim.

For me it was not the first time in Auschwitz, I had been there in 2000 to do a short movie with some students and I remember it as a shocking experience. Hundreds of people walking in the camp transform the area into a touristic place, but only when you concentrate your ear on what the guide says and see, for example, the shoes of thousands of babies killed by the SS a shiver runs down your spine, you start to feel part of the history, especially if the guide is a survivor of the Holocaust.

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