Photographers' Blog

Welcome to Chiberia

Chicago, Illinois

By Jim Young

It was dubbed “Chiberia” here in Chicago: record low temperatures with a wind chill in the -40 Celsius range (-40 Fahrenheit).

I knew it was coming. I had been dodging the bullet for two winters in Chicago and eventually “real cold” had to arrive here sooner or later. I had survived 30+ years of Canadian winters and lived through a -50C (-58F) wind chill in Ottawa, but I have had two of the nicest winters in my life in the Windy City. In February 2012 it was 80F and I was walking around in flip flops, but certainly not this week.

It started at sunrise on Monday morning. While driving along Lake Michigan to downtown I could see a “fog-like” haze over the water – it was arctic sea smoke caused by bitter cold air moving over the warm lake water. I parked down by the beach. It was a beautiful sunny morning and a balmy -42F. The biggest problem I had was with my fingers. Working with cameras even while wearing the warmest gloves is a challenge. I would take them off for just a few seconds but it would get incredibly painful, like needles stabbing into your hands. It would take 10 to 15 minutes back in the gloves just to get the pain to subside. I remembered hearing on the radio the early warning signs of hypothermia such as shallow breathing, drowsiness, shaking and stumbling…check, check, and check. The batteries in my cameras died so I tried to shoot an Instagram, but even though my iPhone was inside several layers of clothing, it was frozen like a brick and wouldn’t even boot up.

Not surprisingly, there weren’t many people out on the streets. I found places that could potentially make a photo but would wait 20 to 30 minutes for the right moment to happen or just someone to come along, and with these frigid temperatures, playing the waiting game was very difficult.

Gallery: Deep freeze

The next morning, I started the day dealing with a water leak in my house from the brutally cold overnight. Even though Tuesday provided some relief, it was still quite cold. But I found it to be actually quite tolerable. Occasionally working without gloves and an open jacket, I went to another spot along the lake to finally find people out enjoying the snow and ice.

20 years covering conflict: Goran Tomasevic

As in the ruins of Beirut, Sarajevo or Stalingrad, the conflict in Syria is a sniper’s war. Men stalk their fellow man down telescopic sights on suburban streets, hunting a glimpse of flesh, an eyeball peering from a crack, using decoys to draw their prey into giving themselves away.

During weeks spent tracking the fluid frontline of the battle, veteran war photographer Goran Tomasevic provided daily evidence of an escalating conflict that the UN estimates has killed 100,000 people. Tomasevic photographed with exceptional proximity as combatants mounted complex attacks, managed logistics, treated their wounded, buried their dead – and died before his eyes.

This special package has been sent to coincide with an exhibition of Goran’s award winning work at Visa Pour L’image, the premiere international photojournalism festival. This exhibition was curated by Ayperi Karabuda Ecer.

Living as a Muslim in Paris

Paris, France

By Youssef Boudlal

Photographing the daily life of Muslims in Paris is a challenge. I discovered this by throwing myself into the project, which rapidly became a story of failed encounters, rejection and disappointment. Among the people I met, the fear of prejudice towards the Muslim world was intense, as was the worry that cliches about the community could be fueled or spread by images.

I met a good number of people as part of my investigation. The first few were in the suburbs of Paris, home to a large Muslim community. In Vitry-sur-Seine, I met four twenty-somethings of North African origin sitting outside a church. I explained my project to them and their suspicions were quickly aroused. I was asked about my job, the reasons for my project and why I was interested in them. They worried about how my images would be used. One of them took me for a spy.

Another encounter, this time at Mantes-la-Jolie, among Paris’s western suburbs. Here, a young woman in a headscarf was buying fruit and vegetables at the Val Fourre market and I decided to approach her. I explained my project in detail, and asked if she wanted to take part. She displayed no enthusiasm but no scepticism either, to the point where she asked permission from her father, a butcher she was helping for the season. I was already picturing images of this contrast. But he refused, without explanation. My arguments couldn’t sway him.

Commemorating Operation Pedestal

Valletta, Malta

By Darrin Zammit Lupi

In ever dwindling numbers, elderly war veterans keep their annual mid-August appointment in Valletta’s Grand Harbour to take part in a commemorative service marking the anniversary of Operation Pedestal. Known to the Maltese as the Santa Marija convoy (as it had reached the island on the feast day of Our Lady of the Assumption, an important day in Malta’s religious calendar), Pedestal was a desperate attempt by the Allied forces to get much-needed supplies of food, fuel and ammunition to the bomb-battered island of Malta in August 1942, at the height of the war in the Mediterranean.

Malta, a British air and naval base at the time, was on the brink of starvation and close to surrendering to the Axis powers that surrounded it on all sides. The operation’s success, albeit with heavy losses, has gone down in military history as one of the most important British strategic victories of World War Two, even though it was in many ways a tactical disaster.

To commemorate the 60th anniversary 11 years ago an old school friend of mine, Simon Cusens, took it upon himself to make contact with survivors of the convoy and arrange to bring them to Malta to mark the anniversary. 105 convoy veterans attended that year, including three former enemies, watching a highly emotional re-enactment of the August 15, 1942, arrival to the beleaguered island of the tanker SS Ohio, the ship that carried the most crucial supply of fuel and is, to this day, considered to be the island’s savior.

In the face of tear gas

Istanbul, Turkey

By Osman Orsal

I am always prepared for these kind of protests before I arrive.

I wear shirts that cover my arms and of course I carry a gas mask. After all, during protests I can safely predict through my experience when police will use tear gas.

So, I took a secure, good position for shooting images. After taking 3-4 photos it is hard for everyone (even if you have a gas mask) to continue taking pictures because of the tear gas. I followed exactly this procedure with this protest.

After the demonstration was over I saw other people affected by tear gas pouring fresh lemon in their eyes. It is believed to be a kind of a healer after tear gas. But I couldn’t see this woman around. She probably went somewhere to wash her face and refresh herself for the next battle. The protesters said they wouldn’t let destruction crews cut down the trees.

A dramatic rescue outside my window

Athens, Greece

By John Kolesidis

Today I woke up to the deafening sound of thunder. The rain was pouring hard.

I made myself a cup of coffee and watched the rain out the window flood the surrounding streets. I was at a loss as to how I would get to the office without getting soaked, so I decided to stay put until things calmed down a bit. When I finished my coffee, I looked out the window again, and things had taken a dramatic turn.

GALLERY: SAVED FROM A FLOOD

A bit further down the street I could see an immobilized car getting swollen by the flood. Then I heard some muffled voices. I put on my galoshes and raincoat, took my cameras, and tried to get there. I walked through a small park, but that led me behind barbed wire which I couldn’t get over. I saw a woman trying to hold on to her car door, while the water was at waist level. I called out to her not to be scared, urging her to hold on to the door until I could get closer.

I took some pictures behind the barbed wire, and then I tried to find a way to cross the flooded park so that I could get to her. When I got in front of the fence, there was a cascade between me and the woman, as she was on the other side of the road. People were looking on from their balconies, and I started shouting out to them to call the fire brigade. Then a man on the same side of the street climbed on top of her car, and another man managed to approach as well.

Age and agility in Sun City

Sun City, Arizona

By Lucy Nicholson

During the post Second World War baby boom 76 million Americans were born between 1946 and 1964. The first of them turned 65 in 2011, and as the baby boomers begin to retire, I decided to visit the original American purpose-built retirement community: Sun City, Arizona.

SLIDESHOW: SENIORS OF SUN CITY

An 80-year-old and a 20-year-old were getting married in Sun City. A local newspaper reporter came to cover the wedding. The first question the reporter asked was: “Don’t you think the sex will lead to premature death?”

The groom replied: “If she dies, she dies.”

Fred Isenberg, 75, broke into a broad grin as he told me the punch-line of this joke during a break in a tango dancing class he was taking with his wife Suzanne, 71.

Witnessing my generation’s gold rush

By  Jim Urquhart

He stood there with a shotgun over his shoulder and asked me in no uncertain terms, “What do you think about oil drilling?” And in that moment, the seasoned oil man I had come across pheasant hunting with five of his friends in a field west of the oil boom town of Williston, North Dakota, had me stunned like a deer in headlights.

GALLERY: North Dakota’s oil boom

There was never a threat of danger, but there was definitely a bit of suspicion as to what my motives were. Being obviously out of place, having asked these guys where an oil drilling rig was and after telling them I was a member of the media, I had to pause for a moment.

Part of me was thinking, “Whatever you think of oil is what I think too.” But I just explained to him I had no dog in this fight and was there to document the oil boom. It was the truth and it was all I had.

Escaping Toronto: The hassles of traveling with gear

By Jim Urquhart

As I attempted to leave Toronto I found I had to go into deep Canadian mode to make it possible.

Last week I spent several days meeting editors and visiting a friend in the city. I had looked forward to the trip but I never expected it to be such a mind melting, dignity crushing, blood letting experience to simply go home when it was all said and done. Through my work I get to travel my fair share. Over the last several years I have developed several habits that help me ensure my travels go as planned.

A major one is avoiding traveling by air as much as possible. Traveling by commercial aircraft you are limited by what camera gear you bring along. I never check in any of my gear with luggage. I have seen too many other photographers’ equipment get destroyed by doing so. Also, you are dependent on so many variables that can come into play like weather and aircraft maintenance. I prefer to drive if time allows but seeing as it 1,899.94 miles from my doorstep to Reuters’ Toronto offices I had to fly to return home.

Full gamut of emotions

By Mike Segar

One of the many great things about being a Reuters wire service photographer is the wide spectrum of things that you get to witness and photograph from assignment to assignment. Of course, not every assignment brings you to a place or a situation that excites or moves you emotionally or visually, but over the past week I have had the fortunate experience of shooting two completely different types of assignments that brought me to two completely different experiences.

From the final game of the 2012 NBA finals in Miami last Thursday night where I was front and center to photograph LeBron James and the Miami Heat as they celebrated clinching the title victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder where the pure joy and excitement of sport was on full display, to a far different type of emotion at a New York City prison where inmates earned their high school diplomas.

SLIDESHOW: GRADUATING, FROM PRISON

At the NBA finals, hours of preparation, the setting and testing of remote cameras, days of shooting the action of each game in the series and trying to capture the peak of action culminated in the release of emotion the players displayed after reaching their ultimate goal. As a photographer, the nerves and the anticipation of trying to make the best possible pictures of that emotion for our clients around the world dominate your focus and attention. When it is all over and the pictures have been sent a real sense of relief of knowing you captured the best of what happened on the court in front of you comes.