Photographers' Blog

Pearl of the orient; 15 years after the Handover

By Bobby Yip

Hong Kong celebrates its 15th anniversary since the handover to Chinese sovereignty from British rule on July 1, 2012. In the city’s King George V Memorial Park, a plaque from the colonial era is hidden behind the roots of a banyan tree. I found this to be a good symbol of the fading former colonial links to the territory’s past.

Bearing the romanticized phrase “Pearl of the Orient”, Hong Kong attracts visitors from around the world. Due to a fast growing economy, a flood of mainland Chinese visitors in recent years (including many big spenders) have boosted the city’s retail sales. In 2011, nearly 42 million visitors came to Hong Kong, about 64 percent of them from the mainland.

SLIDESHOW: HONG KONG 15 YEARS LATER

The “Forever Blooming Bauhinia” sculpture outside the Hong Kong Convention and Exhibition Centre, a gift from the Chinese government in 1997, is one of the most popular tourist spots for mainlanders. To me, they enjoy a freedom of expression here without fear of political correctness. Under an immigration scheme, a few of might eventually settle in Hong Kong. With a good judicial system, low crime rate and a wide range of personal freedom, just to mention a few, becoming a Hong Kong citizen is a dream for many on the other side of the border.

The late paramount leader Deng Xiaoping, architect of “one-country, two-systems”, said Hong Kong “will remain unchanged for 50 years”. In reality, various educational and cultural programs are conducted to try to strengthen the locals national identity and to make them become more patriotic. Flag-raising at schools and national studies are increasingly popular.

Yet, a lot of people still consider themselves as “Hong Kongers” rather than “Chinese people”, recent local polls showed.

Hugo Chavez: One year battling cancer

By Jorge Silva

About a year ago, Venezuela’s President Hugo Chavez surprised us during a routine coverage at his Miraflores palace in Caracas. He appeared with a walking cane.

That was the first time he had ever shown any hint of a physical problem, or indeed any notion of fragility. A few days after that, he left on a tour of Ecuador, Brazil and Cuba where he was hospitalized and received emergency surgery in Havana. Weeks later, Chavez confirmed that a malignant, baseball-sized tumor had been removed from his pelvis, and the saga began.

I’ve been covering Chavez for the last eight years – a long, grueling but utterly fascinating assignment for a photojournalist.

Texts from Hillary – go figure!

By Kevin Lamarque

On a secretive trip by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Tripoli, only days before the capture and killing of Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi, I photographed Clinton aboard a C-17 transport plane. She was wearing dark sunglasses while texting from a makeshift desk she was working from. Okay, nice image I thought, but we were about to land in Tripoli which was certain to yield the images that the world would really want to see. Initially yes. But that was last October.

In the past week, that image of Hillary texting on the plane has gone viral thanks to a tumblr.com blog called “Texts from Hillary” which used my image, along with a similar one from photographer Diana Walker, for a meme which according to the creators of the blog resulted in “a week that included 32 posts, 83,000 shares on Facebook, 8,400 Twitter followers, over 45K Tumblr followers, news stories around the world.”

The blog went so viral, that the creators of the tumblr blog, Adam Smith and Stacy Lambe were invited to the State Department where they met with Secretary Clinton who according to Smith found the site much to her liking. The icing on the cake was having their photo taken with Clinton as they all texted.

Obamacare under siege

By Jason Reed

President Obama’s healthcare overhaul, signed into law two years ago, is his signature domestic policy achievement. It remains a divisive issue among Americans and is likely to be a key issue ahead of the November 6 election in which he seeks a second term.

For three days this week, the nine Justices heard arguments from both sides on whether the healthcare overhaul is lawful. A ruling is expected in June.

I covered the story and gathered pictures, sound and video from the circus-like atmosphere outside the Supreme Court, and compiled supporting images from other Reuters Photographers for this multimedia project. With a Zoom H4N digital audio recorder mounted to the hotshoe of a camera, I was able to capture some ambient sound of the debate raging between participants outside the courthouse.

Owners of The White Silence

By Anton Golubev

When I was a little boy, I adored the books of Jack London. The Nature of the North – that was the thing that captivated me. The White Silence; a chilling title, words that are hard to appreciate for a city dweller used to the din of cars and neon lights. The majority of Russians seldom leave cities further than to go to the dacha, the country houses that most people own just outside the city limits. Some might travel to some mountains or woodlands. Only a few will visit such a godforsaken place as the Russian North. The land where The White Silence reigns.

The North is a cruel place. Here, where the population density reaches one person per ten square kilometers, there is no transport links, there is nobody to ask the way, there is nobody to ask for a light or hot food, and there is little chance that anybody can help you if something happens. You can count on yourself only. The White Silence is a jingling calm when you can’t hear any sound around, it’s a thin line of a low northern wood on the horizon between two halves of the white nothing, it’s a blizzard when the boundless white Tundra flows together with the overhanging northern sky, it’s a half-strewed snowmobile track which you follow to reach the light and warm of a human dwelling.

It’s hard to imagine that somebody can survive in this cruel land except wild animals but there are some people who live there – the northern tribes people of Nenets, Khanti, Komi, Dolgany, Chukchy; the owners of The White Silence. These people arrived in the far north more than a thousand years ago, when the Roman age was finishing in Europe, and they became the owners of this severe land. They pasture reindeer and catch fish as their ancestors did for tens and hundreds of generations.

Mitt Romney: Then and now

By Brian Snyder

Before his campaigns to be the Republican nominee for President of the United States, Mitt Romney challenged Ted Kennedy for the U.S. Senate. While Romney ultimately lost the race against Senator Kennedy, I covered his victory rally in September 20, 1994 when he won the Republican primary.

Some things have changed since then, but much has not. Romney’s parents, who were with him onstage in 1994, have since died, and he now campaigns not only with his children, but also his grand children.

His wife Ann remains at his side, often introducing him at campaign stops.

(Click on the images above for a high resolution version)

Handshakes and corndogs

The Iowa State Fair and the U.S. Presidential election campaign are pure “Americana” to me. Though at times, both seem so over the top but in completely opposite directions. From the Hollywood-esque nature of the politicians rolling through the crowds (rock stars in suit) to the real down-home kindness and curiosity of the Midwest people, just wanting to be out enjoying the atmosphere.


(Click on the images to view in high resolution)

The Fair is one of the first unofficial steps in the run for the Presidency. The candidates go through their rights of passage from flipping pork chops, eating the latest deep fried concoction, and shaking hands with anyone within arm’s reach, while the sights and smells of the Fair conjures up memories of my own childhood.

The candidates roam around the grounds holding their walking photo-ops, with the press corps following their every move, though I found myself occasionally walking off in brief downtime between candidates to grab snapshots of the environment.

President Obama takes the White House to the Midwest

By Jason Reed

600 miles of ice cream stops, cornfields and cow judging contests – a glimpse inside the traveling white house circus.

The scene in Washington DC, 2011 – U.S. debt ceiling negotiations, unemployment figures that wont improve, congressional deadlock – it’s enough to make you want to get out of town. President Barack Obama did just that this week, jumping on a shiny new bus and heading out to the Midwest to spend time with pretty much anyone who wasn’t wearing a business suit.

It was surely a nice change of scenery for Obama and definitely for photographers assigned to the White House who have been fed a steady diet of presidential remarks in front of all the familiar Washington backgrounds for weeks on end. The message was however, the same. Getting the nine per cent of unemployed Americans back to work.

Hugo Chavez, image icon

Despite all the opportunities I’ve had to witness the passionate support that followers of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez show their leader, it was a profound moment for me when I photographed a sobbing woman at an emotional Mass called to pray for his health after he vanished from public sight following an operation in Cuba.

Venezuelans had more than 20 days of deep uncertainty at the end of June during which no one seemed to know what had happened to the charismatic but tough 56-year-old.

Rumors swirled, fueled by the official secrecy, with the only line given by the government that the socialist leader had undergone surgery in Havana to remove a pelvic abscess, but would be coming home soon.

George H.W. Bush: Old school president top in “Class”

George H.W. Bush stood taller than most men throughout seven decades of public service. That built-in surplus of extra inches came in handy at times when used to intimidate his political opponents struggling to stand up to his eye level while left listening below.

And he has always been slender; looking more like a six-foot, two-inch splinter than what you’d expect from a man who woke up to live the impossible dream of occupying the White House and then retiring as the 41st President of the United States.

A dream born out of an idea almost 50 years earlier when Bush was quietly raising a family while making money out of the barren oil fields of Texas but thinking of ways to escape those hot dusty winds swirling above the cactus and sagebrush.