Photographers' Blog

News photography – going wider

London, Britain

By Russell Boyce

Global Editor, News Projects, Reuters Pictures

Sometimes apparently unconnected events turn out to be related in some abstract way, and they get me thinking.

My friend Jennifer O’Neill, the guitarist with a young band named “Bleech” posted a picture on Facebook recently. It read: “a musician is someone who puts £5,000 worth of gear into a car worth £500 to drive 100 miles to earn £50.” It’s a sentiment many young photographers can also relate to in the changing landscape of professional news photography.

A catch-up drink with some of my (now retired) mentors, colleagues and competitors from the AP and UK national newspapers revealed stories of gloom and decline. A respected photographer was selling his gear to pursue a career in baking since news pictures could no longer provide a viable livelihood. We heard a tale of young photographers waiting to be assigned jobs, knowing that if their pictures did not get published they would not get paid, even if they had invested time and money to produce the images. And of course we heard predictions that media companies would soon start to drop some of their newswire services to cut costs.

All this discussion took place against the backdrop of a debate as to why professional photographers hand out their pictures for free on social media platforms: “How can professional photographers expect to sell a picture that has already been seen for free?”

The conclusion of the assembled group was that young photographers must misguidedly believe that by giving their work away for free now, they will get the big-paying jobs later on. Yet the group agreed that, in reality, if you give your pictures away now, no one will pay for them in the future – why would they?

Made in Chile

The first 17 days in August after the miners disappeared underground are spent in silent vigilance, almost in secrecy. We think this will be just another of so many mine disasters that happen around the world, with some anxious waiting followed by a great deal of mourning. The respect for the pain of the 33 families is felt all across that stretch of desert – dubbed Camp Hope. The pain of that vigilance gives way to an outburst of rage against the mine’s owners, who never appear nor give any credible explanation for the disaster.  Rumors of a rescue plan without details cause more confusion as it all seems improvised. When the collapsed mine tunnel is determined to be impossible to reopen, the rescuers pull back as it seems there is no one alive to rescue. The families sink into uncertainty.

(Top-Bottom) Policemen escort the co-owner (C) of the San Jose copper and gold mine where miners are trapped in Copiapo. Relatives of trapped miners wait outside of the mine for news of them in Copiapo.

“All 33 of us are fine in the shelter.” My family lunch ends abruptly as we see the slip of torn paper on live television. The miners are alive 17 days after their tunnel collapsed 700 meters underground. Six hours later I’m in Camp Hope far from our lunch table photographing the families celebrating. The families learn to laugh again.

(Top-Bottom) A member of the media looks at a computer screen with the image of a note sent by one of the 33 miners trapped inside the San Jose mine in Copiapo. Relatives of trapped miners react after learning that the 33 miners were found alive in Copiapo.

A day photographing at Camp Hope soon becomes a routine so natural I feel like part of the neighborhood. I park my car, grab my cameras, and greet the families who are also part of the landscape. I greet Maria and Elizabeth, sisters of trapped miner Dario Segovia, who are conversing and joking with everyone around. Photographers gather in front of their awning to cover reactions to whatever is the news of the day. Together with them is Cristina Nuñez, fiancee of miner Claudio Yañez, who proposed marriage to her through a message sent from the depths of the mine. She accepted immediately. They’ve already been together for a lifetime. Cristina is boisterous and likes to be noticed.

Memory of the present

Reuters photojournalists continually bear witness to events as they happen across the globe, sending out some 1600 images over our wire every day. The latest edition of our Our World Now series draws upon this unparalleled award-winning resource to document a year in the life of our vibrant, troubled, beautiful planet.

AFGHANISTAN/
A U.S. soldier of 2-12 Infantry 4BCT-4ID Task Force Mountain Warrior takes a break during a night mission near Honaker Miracle camp at the Pesh valley of Kunar Province August 12, 2009. REUTERS/Carlos Barria

Sometimes funny, sometimes devastating, always compelling, the images in Our World Now 3 encompass the drama and diversity of trends and topics that have defined 2009 and offer a glimpse of individual destinies unfolding. In over 350 striking single images and in-depth Witness features, this new book forms a mirror of our times.

from Russell Boyce:

Don’t drink the water, even if there is any to drink (Update)

One more picture that caught my eye during the 24 hours news cycle for the World Water Day is the image of hundreds of hoses providing drinking water to  residents of a housing block in Jakarta.  The grubby plastic pipes supplying a fragile lifeline to families seem to represent the desperation that people face when the water supply is cut off.

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Hoses used to supply residences with water are seen hanging across a street at the Penjaringan subdistrict in Jakarta March 22, 2010. Residents in the area say that they have had to construct makeshift water supplies for their homes by attaching hoses to pumps bought with their own money, as the government has yet to repair the original water supply which was damaged. March 22 is World Water Day.     REUTERS/Beawiharta

Today, March 22 is World Water Day and Reuters photographers in Asia were given an open brief to shoot feature pictures to illustrate it.  The only requirement I asked of them is that they included in the captions, the fact that while the Earth is literally covered in water, more than a billion people lack access to clean water for drinking or sanitation. At the same time in China 50 million people are facing drought conditions and water shortages and the two stories seemed to tie in with one another.

from Russell Boyce:

A Shanghai sinking – an aerial perspective

Checking through the file this picture by Reuters Shanghai based photographer Aly Song really caught my eye and I needed to think why.

CHINA

 A view shows a sinking cargo ship after it collided with a boat on Huangpu River in Shanghai February 1, 2010. Three sailors were  rescued from the accident, while further investigation is underway, according to local media. REUTERS/Aly Song

 

Why does this picture work so well when common sense tells me the worker in the foreground should block my view of the scene? Why don’t I feel that I want him to move so I can see the whole scene? Maybe it’s the way I am drawn into the picture by the strong sense of aerial perspective, the bold dark red of the helmet in the foreground, the point of focus, the harsh contrast of the diagonals thrown up by the stricken cargo ship and then through into the soft, misty and pale skyline of Shanghai.

How to squeeze a decade into 100 pictures

Reuters’ photographers shoot around 1,500 pictures a day, that’s 10,500 pictures a week, 547,500 a year. Times that by ten and you have some idea of the task ahead of me in selecting just 100 pictures to represent the very best of Reuters’ photography from the past decade.

In order to prevent the sheer scale of the project becoming overwhelming we had to be very clear about what we wanted to portray. Rather than telling the story of the decade we wanted to present the best of Reuters photography of the decade. Happily our photographers have produced many of the defining images of our recent history, so we found that our story was also the decade’s story.

Still the decision on what to include and what not to include was not easy. Conversely, limiting the selection to 100 pictures actually made the task easier. Some pictures stand out and stand the test of time. These shine so brightly over the years that it makes them impossible not to pick.

The best job

Editor’s Note: Eliana Aponte is a highlighted photographer this month on the Reuters website. See an extensive portfolio of her recent work here.

 
Being a photographer is one of the best jobs in the world because when you enjoy what you do it is more a hobby than a job. In our case, it is a hobby with considerable responsibility.

As a journalist traveling through different countries, meeting interesting people, or working in inhospitable places, storytelling is a privilege. I have always thought that my eyes are the eyes of many people, and that through them others can see what is happening.
 
When I started as a photographer I always wanted to contribute my bit to make the world a better place. Many of us think that when we are young and full of dreams. As time passes, I realize that the real changes in history are made by the people who are living their own lives. Photographers just document what happens, nothing more.

from Raw Japan:

Call me “Crasher”

MOTORCYCLING-PRIX/MOTOGP

My nickname among the Reuters photographers in Tokyo is "Crasher".

They call me that because I always seem to get pictures right at the moment of a crash whenever I cover motorsports.

One colleague sometimes teases me saying "You’ve got to stop pouring oil on the track," and I answer: "I would never use oil -- I only use banana skins!"

In motorsports the most exciting moment you can capture in a picture is a crash.

Our World Now

Reuters photojournalists are continually bearing witness to events as they happen across the globe. They distribute over half a million pictures each year, pushing the boundaries of what news photography is and can be. Our World Now draws upon this unparalleled resource to document a year in the life of our vibrant, troubled, beautiful planet. In over 350 photographs, this book combines information and emotion to present a vivid mirror of our times. The second volume of this collector’s series is an indispensable visual record of a turbulent year that will be remembered as a turning point of our age.

Our World Now is available in U.S. bookstores. Click here or on the picture above to view a site dedicated to the book.