Photographers' Blog

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.

After the semi-final he added another one himself: the postman! A journalist asked why he did not celebrate after his second goal against the Germans. He simply answered that it is his job to score goals and the postman delivering the daily mail does not celebrate at each end every letter box. Seconds of silence and then a big laugh of the media. But as much as they love him, they are also in some kind of conflict with him all the time. One Italian sport paper showed him in a cartoon as King Kong shaking Big Ben when Italy played England in their quarter finals – a lot other countries considered this as racism. The postman took it with a smile and delivered.

For a photographer he is a perfect subject to follow. He shows emotions, argues and plays with great engagement. When he scored his first goal of the semi-final against “my” German team he started his celebration and ran past our captain Phillip Lahm, making him look like a little school boy. We have this proverb saying: “Good boys go to heaven – bad boys make it everywhere” – in this case into the final….

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.

Don’t leave home without it… a camera

Thousands of Common Grackle birds fly over downtown Waco and the Alico Building after sunset in Texas December 31, 2007.  REUTERS/Larry Downing

The most beautiful photographic moments jump out in front of you unexpectedly and then, as quickly as they appeared, vanish into thin air. Wonderful photographs exist for an instant before they’re gone forever… alluring eye candy seductively winking at you in plain sight waiting for an easy invite to go home with you, be framed, and then proudly shown off for a lifetime.

Confession takes place inside the Catholic cathedral in the Plaza de Armas in Santiago, Chile, October 5, 2009.  REUTERS/Larry Downing

Sound easy? It is, only if you follow the most basic rule of photography… don’t ever leave home without a camera.

A female customer's foot is seen inside a fish pool containing tiny carp, or Garra Rufa fish, which feed off the dead skin from feet to soften them before a pedicure at Yvonne's Hair and Nail Salon in Alexandria in Virginia, September 13, 2008.          REUTERS/Larry Downing

Any camera, big or small, size doesn’t matter!

Shadows are cast on the White House in the early morning before a snow in Washington, February 4, 2009.  REUTERS/Larry Downing

The latest selection of amateur “happy snap” digital cameras have given new life to professional dreams for all levels of talent of aspiring photographers by providing a chance for picture success on an easier playing field. Technological wonders built by Panasonic, Canon, Sony or Nikon are tiny, simple and efficient mini-computers that are also shockproof, waterproof, and foolproof. Quiet marvels outfitted with fast, world-class optics (lower light capabilities), and built in zoom lenses. All combining to provide the user with significant photographic superiority compared to the larger, slower, mechanical “old school” film cameras needing collections of toxic chemicals and a dedicated darkroom with specialized equipment to produce printed pictures.

Editor’s choice – November 9

Taiwanese pianist Chen Kuan-yu performs during a concert in the middle of a rice paddy in Chishang Township, Taitung County November 7, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

French priest Pouchard is given oxygen after suffering from carbon monoxide poisoning during his mass in Angres church near Lievin, northern France, November 8, 2009. About 150 people were listening to the mass in the church when the incident occurred. REUTERS/Stringer

Parishioners at Greater Vision Community Church cry during the altar call as a pastor offers prayers for those killed in the shooting at the Fort Hood Army post in Killeen, Texas, November 8, 2009. REUTERS/Jessica Rinaldi

Editor’s choice – November 6

Camilla the Duchess of Cornwall (L) reacts as she waits for her husband Prince Charles to fire the gun on the HMCS Haida in Hamilton, Ontario November 5, 2009. REUTERS/Fred Thornhill

Drivers of mass transit system buses receive H1N1 vaccine injections at a hospital in Hefei, Anhui province November 6, 2009. REUTERS/Stringer

Tiger Woods reaches for the ball as he plays on the 8th hole during the 2009 HSBC Champions tournament in Shanghai November 6, 2009. REUTERS/Aly Song

Editor’s choice – November 5

New York Yankees players celebrate with Alex Rodriguez (13) after they defeated the Philadelphia Phillies in Game 6 to win the 2009 World Series in New York November 4, 2009. REUTERS/Bill Kostroun

Visitors at Durban’s Ushaka Marine World get a good view of a shark, November 1, 2009. REUTERS/Rogan Ward

Buddhist monks walk through the Shwe Indein Pagoda near Inle lake November 4, 2009. REUTERS/Soe Zeya

Editor’s choice – November 4

Bostan Khanr, who is fleeing a military offensive in South Waziristan, waits for a medical check up, at the Army Field Camp Hospital for internally displaced persons (IDPs), in Dera Ismail Khan, located in Pakistan’s restive North West Frontier Province, November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Akhtar Soomro

A 32-metre (105 feet) statue of late Chairman Mao Zedong in his youth is seen under construction in Changsha, Hunan province, November 3, 2009. REUTERS/China Daily

A member of the Philadelphia 76ers “Hare Raisers” grabs the ball to dunk in between periods of the Philadelphia 76ers versus the Boston Celtics NBA game in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania November 3, 2009. REUTERS/Tim Shaffer

Editor’s choice – October 23

Joshua Grant (L) and Brock Hayhoe, members of New York’s professional all-male Dance Company “Les Ballets Trockadero de Monte Carlo”, also known as the Trocks, pose for pictures in Sydney October 23, 2009. REUTERS/Daniel Munoz

Shi Liliang, 33, a monk from Southern Shaolin Temple, performs a special Chinese martial art stunt, known in Chinese as Shuishangpiao or “running on water”, at a reservoir on the outskirts of Quanzhou, Fujian province, October 22, 2009. Shi ran on the surface of a row of 1-centimetre-thick (0.39 inch) plywoods for 18 metres (59 feet), breaking his own record of 15 metres (49 feet) created several days ago, local media reported. REUTERS/Stringer

A policeman beats a man, who was fleeing a military offensive in South Waziristan, for cutting in front of others at a food distribution point for internally displaced persons (IDPs) in Paharpur, 40 km (about 25 miles) by road from Dera Ismail Khan, located in Pakistan’s restive North West Frontier Province, October 22, 2009. REUTERS/Faisal Mahmood

Editor’s choice – October 22

Los Angeles Dodgers hitter Manny Ramirez gets ready to hit in the eighth inning of play against the Philadelphia Phillies as fans hold up signs in Game 5 of their Major League Baseball NLCS playoff series in Philadelphia, October 21, 2009. REUTERS/Brian Snyder

A novice Tibetan monk pauses during a prayer meeting at Lower Wutun Monastery in Tongren, Qinghai province October 22, 2009. REUTERS/Jason Lee

A crane lifts a damaged coach of a passenger train at the site of a train accident on the outskirts of the northern Indian city of Mathura October 21, 2009. A speeding passenger train rammed into another waiting near Mathura city station early on Wednesday, killing at least 21 people and injuring several others, officials said. REUTERS/K. K. Arora

Editor’s choice – October 21

Students take part in a march against Colombia’s President Alvaro Uribe in Bogota October 20, 2009. The students also demanded an increase in public university funding during the protest. REUTERS/John Vizcaino

The shadow of a bomb disposal team member falls on the site of a blast as he takes photographs at the International Islamic University in Islamabad October 20, 2009. Taliban militants attacked Pakistani forces and recaptured a strategic town on Tuesday while two suicide bomb blasts at an Islamic university in the capital killed six people and wounded at least 20, officials said. REUTERS/Adrees Latif

An Afghan man carries a sack at a market in Kabul October 21, 2009. REUTERS/ Omar Sobhani

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