Photographers' Blog

Fishing and firearms on Lake Turkana

Lake Turkana, Kenya

By Siegfried Modola

When Simon Choko goes out fishing on Kenya’s lake Turkana, he brings a gun as well as a net.

In the drought-stricken corner of northwestern Kenya, the native Turkana community to which Choko belongs is involved in deadly conflict with rivals from across the border in neighboring Ethiopia, as the poor populations compete for dwindling food.

“I have been a fisherman since I was a boy and I have never experienced such a tense and dangerous period as the one we are living now. Everyone has a gun these days to protect themselves against attacks,” said Choko.

The Turkana are traditionally nomadic pastoralists but they have seen the grass that they need to feed their herds wither in the face of recurring droughts. As conditions change, the Turkana have had to change too, and many have turned to fishing.

The trend began back in the 1960s, following a devastating drought, which wiped out entire herds. As a new source of survival, the government started to introduce communities to fishing in the plentiful waters of the vast and then mostly untouched Lake Turkana.

Witnessing the Nairobi mall massacre

WARNING: GRAPHIC CONTENT

Nairobi, Kenya

By Goran Tomasevic

(Editor’s Note: Goran Tomasevic is a veteran war photographer, covering conflict for over 20 years in countries including Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, Egypt and Syria. As Reuters chief photographer for East Africa, Goran is now based in Nairobi, Kenya. This is his story of the attack on the Westgate shopping center on September 21, 2013.)

I was at home when I heard from a friend about something happening, but we weren’t sure what it was. I went to the Westgate mall and saw some bodies lying in the car park and realized it was serious. I saw some police so I hid behind the cars to take cover and slowly got closer to the gate.

An injured child was being pushed in a supermarket trolley. The woman said to me, “Please, take this child”. But the police jumped in and helped her. I took some pictures and then saw a couple of plainclothes and regular police. I asked when they would be moving and they said they were going to try and enter the shopping mall from the top. I went with them.

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.

The children of Dadaab: Life through the lens

Through my video “The children of Dadaab: Life through the Lens” I wanted to tell the story of the Somali children living in Kenya’s Dadaab. Living in the world’s largest refugee camp, they are the ones bearing the brunt of Africa’s worst famine in sixty years.

I wanted to see if I could tell their story through a different lens, showing their daily lives instead of just glaring down at their ribbed bodies and swollen eyes.

It was a challenging project. As one senior photographer asked, how else can we tell the story without showing images that clearly illustrate the plight of the starving millions? Few photographs cover all aspects of life in the camps.

Circle of life in world’s largest refugee camp

By Jonathan Ernst

I arrived in Dadaab, Kenya, well after the story broke.

It is the world’s largest refugee camp with a population of over 400,000, almost exclusively Somali, refugees. Its originally capacity was only for 90,000. Dadaab became front-page news this summer as the population spiked as a wave of “New Arrivals” crowded into the camps at a rate of more than 1,500 people per day as they fled the famine in their home country.

It’s a huge place, and getting around even requires a commute. Convoys roll from the main aid compounds only at certain hours for security reasons. Aid workers talk about how safe and peaceful it has been over the first 20 years, but the internal politics and demographics of the camp have changed dramatically in the past three or so years, as new arrivals outnumber the original shelter-seekers.

When I got there, the crush of new arrivals was still being processed, but the crush of international media had already left town. One of my first nights in the camps, at the bar in the UN compound, I met the crew who operated the satellite television transmissions for networks around the world whenever they wanted to “go live” from Dadaab. They had just rotated in and were prepared to be there as long as one month. But they left after just four days, as there was no longer any demand for them. Anderson Cooper of CNN was one of the last big names to pass through, and he had left a week or so before.

Me and the man with the iPad

By Barry Malone

I never know how to behave when I go to write about hungry people.

I usually bring just a notebook and a pen because it seems somehow more subtle than a recorder. I drain bottled water or hide it before I get out of the car or the plane. In Ethiopia a few years ago I was telling a funny story to some other journalists as our car pulled up near a church where we had been told people were arriving looking for food.

We got out and began walking towards the place, me still telling the tale, shouting my mouth off, struggling to get to the punch line through my laughter and everybody else’s.

Then there was this sound, a low rumbling thing that came to meet us.

I could feel it roll across the ground and up through my boots. I stopped talking, my laughter died, I grabbed the arm of the person beside me: “What is that?” And I realized. It was the sound of children crying. There were enough children crying that — I’ll say it again — I could feel it in my boots. I was shamed by my laughter.

from Africa News blog:

PHOTOBLOG: Children in Kenya and Haiti forced to grow up fast, if they survive

I had a flashback the other day when I was looking at photographs from Haiti of 15-year-old Fabianne Geismar, shot dead in the head after stealing wall hangings from a Port-au-Prince store, crushed in the Jan. 12 earthquake.

The image of Fabianne sprawled on the ground, blood trailing over the paintings she'd grabbed, took me back to my own childhood in Nairobi and the sight of a 7- or 8-year-old-boy - probably the same age as me at the time - who was caught stealing sweets from a street vendor and was beaten and burnt with rubber tyres. They called it mob justice.

REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

REUTERS/Carlos Garcia Rawlins

To this day, I'll never understand why that poor boy had to die such a violent and senseless death for something so trivial. I feel the same way about Fabianne - she survived one of the most catastrophic events in living memory, only to be shot in the head for petty theft. And for stealing wall hangings where there are no walls.

Maasai fertility blessing: Audio slideshow

Click on the play button above to view an audio slideshow on the Loita Maasai in Kenya blessing women from their village to ensure they have children in a rare fertility ceremony.

There is always one (but in this case two)… Part two

It didn’t take long this time to find a photograph that leapt off the screen. I had intended to select the one image from the Reuters daily file that knocks your socks off. The problem is I found two!

Of course Barack Obama’s speech at the Victory Column in Tiergarten Park in Berlin has to be a contender, for the subject matter if nothing else. But subject matter is not enough. Jim Young’s picture does the trick. It is not the conventional shot of a politician talking from a dais. The composition is pleasing on the eye; it contains, in a very simple way, all the elements necessary for a news picture and, despite the fact it is almost a silhouette, the figure of the U.S. presidential candidate is unmistakable.

mdf3777844.jpg

The other photograph is an absolute winner, and much more of a silhouette. Of course animal pictures are always popular, but Radu Sigheti’s picture of a giraffe in Kenya, with birds sitting on it’s neck, is just a very simple and elegant image that speaks for itself.

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