Photographers' Blog

from Raw Japan:

Farewell to photogenic Aso

JAPAN-ECONOMY/ASO

Japan's voters may have overwhelmingly rejected Prime Minister Taro Aso at the polls last week, but he and my camera got along just fine.

The 68-year-old makes vigorous gestures with his hands and strong facial expressions. His crooked smirk and his eyes that sometimes seem to be  popping out of his head always gave me a lot of interesting photo choices.

Now the photogenic Aso must pack his bags and hand over the prime ministerial house keys to Yukio  Hatoyama , the leader of the new ruling Democratic Party of Japan.

Hatoyama, once nicknamed "the alien" for his prominent eyes,  is -- visually at least -- less interesting except for his unruly locks that sometimes blow about in the wind.

The problem for me behind the viewfinder was that Hatoyama was expected  to win by a landslide while Aso was the visual winner.

Life with a “Quiverfull” Family – the story behind the story

Rick Wilking is a Reuters contract photojournalist based in Denver, Colorado who has been shooting for Reuters for almost 25 years based in Europe, Washington, D.C. and now in Colorado. Rick recently developed the idea of spending time documenting the lives of a Christian “Quiverfull” family who have 15 children due to their belief that all family planning is best left in the hands of God. Rick produced the following piece of multimedia video from his time spent with the Jeub family in Colorado and tells us about the experience below. -  Jim Bourg

I am convinced that the easiest part of my job is taking pictures. Coming up with story ideas, getting access and then producing the final results are MUCH tougher! That was very true with this story. I read about Christian Quiverfull-minded folks who closely follow and live by Christian scripture and biblical verses and decided to try to find one of these families to document. I begged my way into a Quiverfull forum on the web and was met there with much skepticism about letting me in. One family in Kansas said maybe and another back east said I could come by. But neither were enthused and I knew the travel budget was too tight for a trip that distant and long.

Then I found the Jeub family, only a 90 minute drive away from my home in Colorado. They too were tentative at first but let me in after seeing stories I had done recently in their area. My work documenting the headquarters of the “Focus on the Family” organization, portraying troops returning from Iraq at a nearby military base and covering “The Purity Ball”, a Christian father-daughter event all convinced them of my fairness and the integrity of my photojournalism. They said they prayed on it hard and were led to let me into their home to tell their story through pictures and sound.

Homeless, sick and “thanking God for this wonderful place to live”

Reuters Boston Photographer Brian Snyder spent a very long and claustrophobic day in the tiny dark hotel suite where a homeless nurse, Tarya Seagraves-Quee, and three of her four children have been living in Massachusetts for nearly two months.

A record number of families are now being put up in motels due to high unemployment and the rising number of homes going into foreclosure, costing taxpayers $2 million per month but providing a lifeline for desperate families.

Seagraves-Quee has found refuge in a motel after losing her job in Georgia more than a year ago and going without health-care for about 10 months. She suffers from multiple sclerosis, Aspergers syndrome, anemia and lupus, and now is scared she may have cancer. Two of her children, aged 16 and 6, are autistic. After losing her job, and facing repeated physical abuse from a boyfriend, she spent $700 – almost all her savings — on airline tickets for her family to stay with relatives in Boston.

The Wilsons: Climbing out of unemployment and homelessness

Dallas, Texas contract photographer Jessica Rinaldi spent three intensive, intimate and emotional days in the lives of Annette and Frederick Wilson and their family. The Wilsons have been homeless since they moved to Texas from Minnesota after losing both their jobs and then their home.

They ended up with their children and extended family in a homeless shelter but through assistance from the National Urban League they have now found some employment and income, and finally an apartment to live in.

Jessica’s audio slideshow, narrated by the Wilsons themselves:

Annette had been a bus driver in Minneapolis and Frederick was a forklift operator, but he had already been out of work for almost year before Annette lost her job. When Annette, who is a pastor in a Pentecostal church, lost her job and could no longer make the payments on her home she prayed to God for guidance and she says that God told her to move to Texas. They arrived in Texas with only $150 and drove straight to a homeless shelter. There they learned about a local job fair where they got in contact with the National Urban League who helped them move out of the shelter and into a motel room.

Something for nothing?

Everybody likes something for nothing. Better still if that something is actually useful. Last week was all about a little extra content for just a little extra effort and how it pays dividends.

Babysitting
My guess is most Reuters photographers have a camera in their hand most of the time. You know, just in case. My journalist wife had to drive to the world’s largest coal port last weekend. I was babysitting. A new emission trading scheme was slated to be the following week’s main story in Australia so I grabbed toddler and cameras and off we all went. I ended up with a good carbon emissions file including an Asia picture of the week (below) in between splashing in puddles and chasing seagulls…with my son of course.

Drive-by
Two days later I headed in the opposite direction, to Canberra for the arrival of Spain’s King Juan Carlos I and Queen Sofia. On the way there the clouds lifted from some distant hills framing a new wind power farm. Pulling over on the freeway, a few quick frames out the other side of the car…and an image (below) included in the Best of the Week file.

My other pair of eyes and hands

To add to the blog entry (http://blogs.reuters.com/photo/2007/11/07/my-second-pair-of-eyes-ii/) by my colleague Jerry Lampen, more often than we realise we depend on somebody else to enable us to do our job. Generally we think of this profession as individualistic but repeatedly we use the help or the goodwill of others – press and communication managers, security agents, helicopter pilots and drivers.

I would like to make a brief tribute to Olivier Thetaz with whom I take pictured here in action. He is a professional driving instructor training the likes of police or ambulance drivers. He is also a retired amateur race driver and sometimes I think he still has a bit of racing in his blood. I have been sitting on the back of his motorbike on and off for the last 15 years covering cycling, running, triathlon and bikes races.

 
The pictures I take are a result of our special relationship. As the races we cover are not too busy compared to those of the Tour de France or Giro d’Italia we are a bit less pressured but I still need to be fast in making a decision to ask him to stop on the side of the road.

4.25 – who values a news picture?

ATTENTION EDITORS: GRAPHIC CONTENT

A nice number 4.25, seems to sit easy on the eye, or should do except its 4:25 a.m. and the numbers are from my digital clock.

As Reuters’ chief photographer in Asia, I have a lot on my mind. The threat of conflict on the Korean peninsula after Pyongyang’s nuclear tests, fighting in Pakistan and Afghanistan, floods in India and Bangladesh, a bogus trial of Suu Kyi in Myanmar, crashing economies, H1N1, claims and counter-claims of corruption and racism, insecurity in Nepal and Sri Lanka, global warming, the risk of unrest in Tibet and of course, China, where just about anything can happen at any time.

With the decline of the traditional news market, however, I sometimes wonder who still cares about news pictures and why should they be paid for.

Looking Back, Looking Forward

MEMORY OF THE PRESENT

I have just received the first copy of the new book Our World Now 2. The title page reads “Executive Picture Editor: Ayperi Karabuda Ecer”. But besides pleasing my parents (my teenage daughter does not care), what does that mean?

On the one hand, everyone at Reuters is an editor. News flows between photographers, regional chiefs, global editors, picture deskers, keyworders and specialist editors. All are absolutely vital to deliver a daily output of some 1,700 images for the international media. My efforts are only in addition to what has already been produced.

On the other hand, within such a rich, global production there is no such thing as one final edit. Working with Reuters imagery is, like the book’s title, opening a window to our world now – it is live and constantly changing.

Riding with McCain – 2 Days, 9 States and over 4,000 miles

Reuters Boston staff photographer Brian Snyder traveled with Republican U.S. presidential nominee John McCain through election day. He and his colleague Jason Reed who traveled with the Obama campaign posted daily blog entries sharing their experiences and favorite pictures of the day from their campaign coverage. Brian’s final blog entry on covering the McCain campaign follows.

I don’t think it can be said that Senator John McCain’s loss of the U.S. presidency to Barack Obama was for lack of trying. Senator McCain campaigned hard in the final two days before the election.  On November 2 and November 3 we went to 11 rallies, in 9 different states, and worked 45 out of 48 hours.  We flew more than 4,000 miles over those two days. At each rally I shot a picture from the same spot in the buffer in front of the stage.  What you see in this combination of pictures are those images, one from each of the 11 rallies.  The covers of our schedules are at the end of the sequence.  While in the end past decisions and this unique moment in history may have stopped Senator McCain from becoming president, he certainly gave it one final, strong push.

Riding with Obama – A Final Look Back

 Reuters Washington staff photographer Jason Reed has been traveling with the campaign of Democratic U.S. presidential nominee Barack Obama. He and his colleague Brian Snyder traveling with the McCain campaign have been posting daily photographers blog entries sharing their experiences and favorite pictures of the day from their campaign coverage.

In the past year and a half I have been priviledged to have a front row seat to American political history – on a personal journey as a Reuters photographer on the road to the White House with Barack Obama.
 
In the first 24 hours that we have all had a chance to absorb the historic election of Democratic Senator Barack Obama to become the 44th president of the United States, I have finally had time to catch my breath after an incredible 21-month journey photographing his unlikely rise on the political world stage, alongside my Reuters photographer colleagues. From the very earliest beginnings of his campaign, at his announcement speech on those frozen steps of the State House in Springfield, Illinois to the grand stage in Chicago’s Grant Park where he delivered his victory speech last night, I feel incredibly privileged to have gone along for the ride and witnessed one of the great ascensions to the U.S. presidency in history.
 

 
Of all of those who aspired to the highest office in the land, from the early days when we chased many Republican and Democratic candidates from coffee shop photo-ops to town halls across the state of Iowa, it always seemed to me as a photographer that it was Barack Obama who stood out from the crowd. This was not at all just because of the color of his skin, although the press has made much of his race as the first African-American candidate to go all the way to the White House. When I was taking pictures, it was in observing his quiet grace, the way he engages people from all walks of life and of course his famous ability to crystallize into words the hopes and aspirations of millions through his campaign for ‘change’. The reactions he evokes from his followers and supporters are like no other recent candidate’s I have seen. I have tried to convey this through my pictures on the wire.