Photographers' Blog

Clooney gets hitched

Venice, Italy

By Alessandro Bianchi

I was waiting aboard a taxi boat moored in front of the Hotel Cipriani in Venice for four hours waiting to photograph U.S. actor George Clooney at the gala dinner ahead of his wedding ceremony. Unfortunately, about 30 taxi boats full of reporters, photographers and the paparazzi had exactly the same idea.

U.S. actor Clooney and his wife Alamuddin stand in a water taxi on the Grand Canal in Venice

At around 6 o’clock in the evening, George jumped on his personal taxi boat “Amore” to go to the Aman Hotel and the taxi fleet swarmed around his boat to take the best picture.

Working on a taxi boat is hard at the best of times, as the waves can make it unstable and you can lose your balance, but the job was made even more difficult by the fact that Clooney’s boat was surrounded by others rented by the media.

U.S. actor Clooney travels in a taxi boat to the venue of a gala dinner ahead of his official wedding ceremony in Venice

It was here that I experienced the most difficult part of this story. I had covered events like this before, such as the Venice Film Festival where we followed a movie star by boat on their arrival, but this time it was different. So many taxi boats surrounded the actor yet we all had to sail in the Grand Canal alongside the regular traffic and gondolas.

To get the best view, I decided to jump on the roof and work from the top to try to get something distinctive.

Did he bite?

Miami, Florida

By Russell Boyce

The shout went up “He’s bitten him! Suarez has just bitten him!”

It was the World Cup match between Uruguay and Italy, and both teams were playing for a place in the last 16.

The game was tense, with pictures streaming in from the match in Brazil to the remote picture-editing center we have set up in Miami.

A television replay and it looked pretty certain that Uruguay’s Luis Suarez had bitten Italy’s Giorgio Chiellini on the shoulder in an off-the-ball incident. But you can never tell 100 percent when looking at TV.

Behind the Costa Concordia timelapse

Giglio harbor, Italy

By Tony Gentile

I have always been keen on cinema and documentary video. I study and create multimedia projects and like telling stories using still photos, video and audio.

After receiving the assignment to cover the Costa Concordia “parbuckling”, I had the idea to create a timelapse. Definitely not an original idea because in Giglio, there were more cameras shooting timelapses than there are island residents.

A timelapse is a cinematographic technique used to shorten the action. It allows us to see very slow actions or natural events that we cannot see naturally using the technique of shooting pictures at regular intervals. Then we edit to create a video of about 24 or 25 frames per second. In this way you can see the action accelerate.

The king of Italian politics

Rome, Italy

By Alessandro Bianchi

Four-time Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi lost his court case, but not his magic.

Tensions were high three days after he was definitively convicted for tax fraud on August 1. No one knew whether the unpredictable leader of Italy’s center-right for the past two decades would quit politics or not.

After avoiding conviction in dozens of other cases over the years, an appeals court upheld a four-year jail sentence – commuted to one year – for the media mogul, and because of a recently passed corruption law, he also faced a ban from public office. To deliver his response to the ruling, Berlusconi did what comes naturally to him – he called his die-hard supporters to rally around him in a public square.

One winner at the Palio

Siena, Italy

By Stefano Rellandini

Count only who gets up the “Nerbo!” Nerbo is the traditional riding whip used by jockeys at the Palio of Siena during the three laps around the square that will crown the lady of Siena until the next Palio. The Palio of Siena is an absolutely atypical race from everything that one can imagine. Horses must do three laps of the main square and the animal who arrives first with or without a jockey wins. There is no second nor third place, no podium.

I spent two days in the parish. To best understand the meaning behind Palio you have to live in the parish for all three days of the event. The two days before the race are used by jockeys to ride bareback doing trials. Horses are assigned through a raffle drawn in Piazza del Campo then each parish must recruit the best jockey around.

In the evening each parish’s alleys are filled with tables set up for dinner. All the people who belong to a parish take part. The only subject of conversation that you can hear between the tables refers to what will happen on race day. Each horse is cared for in the stable of his own parish by a groom who stays with the animal night and day without leaving, even for a minute. It’s forbidden to walk near the stable, where the horse is not to disturb.

The puppet masters of Italian politics

Rome, Italy

By Tony Gentile

I have never before seen an electoral campaign based solely on the appearance of the main political leaders on television talk shows.

After disappearing from the national stage for about a year former prime minister Silvio Berlusconi now enters the houses of Italians every day, more than once a day, on the screens broadcast by the biggest TV channels. The same is happening with the others leaders including outgoing Prime Minister Mario Monti.

They invade our television sets so much that one of the most important Italian satirical show decided to produce a special edition of the program called “Gli Sgommati, elektion edition”, produced by Palomar and broadcast by Sky.

Toy soldiers

Anzio, Italy

By Tony Gentile

A few months ago I exhibited my pictures during a photographic festival in Sicily. As I was hanging my work I was impressed by the images of another photographer which were displayed next to mine. They were war photos, in black and white, depicting World War II and I thought they were taken by an old photographer. But when I looked closer I saw that the photographer was young, and the pictures were taken only a year before. They were eerily similar to those shot during the 1940s, but the reportage concerned a re-enactment of the wartime landing of Allied forces in Anzio, about 60 km (37 miles) south of Rome.

Last week I glanced upon an announcement that the 69th anniversary of the Anzio landing was taking place, so I decided to go to take a look and cover this story. Unfortunately, due to the economic crisis, there were not many people involved in it this year but there were enough to make a picture story. While the rest of Italy was starting to celebrate the beginning of the Carnival season, these few war buffs were parading around in 70 year old army vehicles.

In the early hours of January 22, 1944, a convoy of 374 ships disembarked the 1st British Division on the coast just north of Anzio, while the 3rd American Division landed on the beaches near Nettuno (named Peter Beach and X-Ray Beach by the Allied forces). This was the beginning of Operation Shingle which had been so strenuously promoted by Winston Churchill.

Super Mario

By Kai Pfaffenbach

There were other big names supposed to be the super stars of this Euro 2012 – Portugal’s Christiano Ronaldo, Germany’s Bastian Schweinsteiger, Holland’s Robin van Persie or France’s Franck Ribery – they have all flown home by now and before the final between Spain and Italy there is only one guy left who will be recognized as the tournament’s big star: Mario Balotelli from Italy.

What a story. Adopted from African parents when he was three, brought up by Italian foster parents and now one of the most recognized strikers playing for England’s champions Manchester City and the man who brought Italy into the final with his two striking goals against an agonized German squad in the semi-final.

Covering all major soccer tournaments and big finals for the last 15 years I can’t remember one player who fascinates the media and fans like him. And it’s not only about the way he plays. The number of his nicknames seems endless. Super-Mario, after the popular video-game star, Balla-Balla Balotelli, as he is well known for his jokes with team mates or Mad Mario, as he gets quite furious on the pitch (he faced four red cards during the last Premier League) season.

Cruising to Venice

By Stefano Rellandini

Venice has always been a peculiar destination for everyone who visits. As a town built on water it appears somewhat atypical; no cars, no motorcycles, not even any bikes. The only way to travel through the city is to walk or use the gondolas, the traditional boats of Venice.

Ships are primarily used to reach Venice and in recent years these have become bigger and bigger. Every weekend seven or eight arrive at the lagoon of Venice. They then sail in front of San Marco square to reach the harbor.

The transition through the lagoon is always an exciting moment, especially witnessing the dimensions of these huge sea giants against the surrounding territory.

Costa Concordia: An incredible tragedy

By Max Rossi

4 o’clock on a Saturday morning, a confused call told me a cruise ship had run aground near the island of Giglio in the beautiful Italian region of Tuscany. My first reaction was “I can’t go!”, Pope Benedict was waiting for me to take pictures of him shaking hands with the new Italian Prime Minister Mario Monti in his private library at the Vatican. No way could I leave that event uncovered but the bad thing was that I was the only staff photographer in Rome – just 150 km (90 miles) from the ship.

A stringer photographer, Remo Casilli, was sent there immediately and he was able to get pictures of the survivors still covered in their blankets at Santo Stefano harbor and the first images of the ship lying on its side near the island. I spent the hours before the meeting with the Pope trying to get in touch with some photographers on the island, and finally, thanks to Facebook, got the phone number of a member of local news agency Giglio News to provide us with the first night images of the ship in the Giglio Harbour.

In the meantime chief photographer Stefano Rellandini was also searching and filing to to our global desk in Singapore whatever images we found. Saturday afternoon was spent coordinating and editing our stringer pictures from the island. I left Rome on Sunday morning and arrived on the island around 3 in the afternoon due to a long waiting list for the ferry in Santo Stefano harbor. I had the only car on the ferry. The rest were rescue vehicles.

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