Photographers' Blog

An oddly beautiful surprise

By Aly Song

This wasn’t what I expected at all when I arrived at the beach of Qingdao city in China’s eastern Shandong province.

SLIDESHOW: FACE-MASKED SWIMMERS

I was assigned to shoot portraits for a Reuters story on a Chinese airline company. We settled down to plan to board an aircraft with the company CEO, photographing him and other passengers on the plane. So, I booked myself a 24-hour round trip from Shanghai to Qingdao bearing in mind that during the half day in Qingdao I could shoot the green algae along the beaches which appears almost every summer.

However, my plan turned out to be a failure. The weather wasn’t hot enough so there was very little algae. I was about to head back disappointed until I glanced at these women swimming in the ocean. They were wearing full-size masks on their head which looked a lot like wrestler’s masks to me. I could imagine these women coming onto the beach very soon and starting to fight.

I laughed for a while and took some pictures. I discovered that this phenomenon didn’t look strange to the locals at all. Consulting with some other swimmers, they told me that these nylon-fabric masks were invented by a woman about seven years ago and were believed to be good at blocking the sun’s rays. It’s easy to buy one at local swimwear stores as they are now mass produced.

That was how I came across an interesting method for beach-goers to prevent their skin from getting sunburned. I believe that there could be a wider market for these masks because most of the swimmers, especially women, would love to spend as much time as possible on the beach without getting a serious tan. To me, it’s much easier and cooler to put on a mask than to put on lots of sun block cream.

My day with Cocoa, the New York goat

By Allison Joyce


A few weeks ago, while I was at the Empire Hotel having a drink with friends, a latecomer arrived and laughingly said that on his way, he had passed by a goat hanging out at Lincoln Center. We were incredulous until he showed us a photo he had snapped on his phone and sure enough, there it was, a goat actually hanging out in the Lincoln Center fountain! Within days I read a story on Gawker titled “Amazing Pizza Goat Risks Overexposure,” which stated that the “pizza goat”, aka Cocoa, had dined at Serafina. I thought that this would make an incredible visual “only in New York” sort of story, so I tracked down the goat’s owner, Cyrus Fakroddin, and met them at their home last weekend in Summitt, New Jersey with the Reuters TV crew.

We followed Cyrus and Cocoa around the home they share as Cocoa wandered about, lounged in front of a warm fire, hung out with Cyrus’s pet chickens, and even jumped up onto the kitchen counter to snack on some fresh fruit. Before we headed into the city for the day, we ran an errand at the post office, and when confronted with their “no goats allowed” policy Cyrus simply told them that she was a service goat and that was that– we were in! Walking around downtown Summitt, it was clear that Cyrus and Cocoa were local celebrities; they were greeted many times by their local fans.

After the post office we headed out to Manhattan. We went to Central Park, where Cyrus serenaded Cocoa to sleep by playing his harmonica. We then hopped on the subway to go to Little Italy for lunch at an outdoor cafe, finally ending the night in Times Square, where Cocoa followed Cyrus into Forever 21 to browse. They were quickly escorted out by a laughing security guard. After their shopping excursion, Cyrus put Cocoa down for another nap under the glowing lights of the square.

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