Photographers' Blog

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.

from AxisMundi Jerusalem:

Heaven or Hell

To be in the right place at the right moment - this is every photojournalist’s dream. To be on the scene to record the “decisive moment” with your camera.

Most photojournalists around the world consider Israel and the Palestinian Territories as "heaven" for great stories providing great pictures. Well they are wrong.

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For a long time this place has produced some of the most memorable news photos ever but at a high cost, and not just to the millions of Israelis and Palestinians who have suffered in their daily lives through the conflict of the past two decades or so. A number of photographers and camera operators lost their lives or been badly injured while trying to convey the story and a great number of others have psychological scars from being exposed to scenes of death and destruction over long periods of time. 

An elusive war – December and January in Afghanistan

In the history of embeds, this one has been pretty unremarkable so far. I kicked things off in Dubai with an impulse purchase of a Canon 5D Mark II. Stills and video ! ASA 6400 ! 20 MB files ! It seemed like a great idea until I dropped it in the mud on a patrol. So much for the resale value.

After getting to Bagram Air Base, it took a while until I was able to test out the new gear. We had a four-day wait due to rain, which delayed or cancelled flights and gave me plenty of time to indulge in the ice cream bar at the dining hall.  On day five I got a late-night flight to Jalalabad, where I received a briefing about my embed area and made plans to get further north.  Finally, a week after my embed had officially begun, I took a 20 minute ride on a Chinook helicopter and arrived to Foward Operating Base Bostick, located in Kunar Province about 10 miles from the Pakistan border.

The view from the base is stunning. Snow capped mountains to the east mark the border with Pakistan, the Kunar River runs through the valley, and at night the stars in the Milky Way seem close enough to touch.  This being Christmas, there was a candle-lit church service in the chapel on the 24th, followed on Christmas Day by caroling and hot chocolate. The war seemed pretty far away.

Finbarr from the field

On Jan. 14 Reuters hosted a live video Q&A with our renowned photographer Finbarr O’Reilly about his experiences in the war-torn Democratic Republic of Congo. Finbarr addressed what drew him to Africa and the most difficult aspects of being a photographer in a war zone.

Finbarr is still available to answer questions, submit them in the comments section below or send a Twitter message with the hash tag “#finbarr” .

LIVE CHAT: Finbarr O Reilly

Follow the latest updates

Check out “Death all around,” his multimedia report from a Congolese refugee camp, dispatches from Chad and Afghanistan, selected photos from his portfolio, and an audio slideshow from his most recent Congo assignment.

Stepping into photographer’s shoes…

For sub-editors on Reuters Singapore Picture Desk, one of this year’s performance targets is a “shooting assignment”. They have to select and plan a valid photographic assignment and then shoot pictures for the wire. The exercise is intended to give them practical insight into the working lives of busy photographers in the field and the decisions and operational challenges they face on a daily basis. 

Shahida Patail is one such sub-editor.

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Up until now my picture taking had been limited to holiday snaps and friends’ weddings but the thought of shooting a picture for the Reuters wire was certainly appealing.

In my eagerness I decided to go to Arab Street and on a working day to boot. There was no concrete idea in my head, but I kept thinking of the colourful shop houses and the much-photographed Sultan Mosque and felt confident that I’d be able to find a subject. Luckily, before leaving the office, my boss Pedja Kujundzic suggested a possible angle – old buildings contrasted with new buildings.

The Papal visit

An interesting challenge is how to tell the story without including the subject in the photographs. It’s interesting because, by avoiding the obvious and familiar, sometimes a greater sense of the occasion, and the emotions involved,  can be conveyed.

For example, take the current visit by Pope Benedict XVI to the United States.  Clearly the Pope was the centre of attention, and there are very good photographs of him that were taken and published in newspapers and on websites around the world. Photographs of him bring pleasure and comfort to millions.

 The fact that he is in the States is of interest too, and it is important to take photographs that locate him there. On the other hand we are familiar with photographs that show the Pope in person, and what strikes me when looking at the Reuters coverage of the current visit is just how much the passion, reverence and joy felt by so many, can be conveyed in photographs that don’t show him in at all.

Ninjas – in text or pictures?

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Japan’s sleepy town of Iga offered an opportunity for me to write my first story for the news wire. Iga is known to many Japanese as one of the traditional home towns of the ninja. I was looking forward to seeing tens of thousands ninja clad enthusiasts, the ninja themed-train and a house with secret escape passages - the home of a real ninja.

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The hardest part was knowing where to start - that and deciding on what the story’s ‘selling point’ would be in text terms rather than pictures. Would I be able to persuade people to give me both tantelising ninja tidbits and interesting quotes?

I first interviewed the self-proclaimed grandson of a real ninja who told me that his grandfather was always out on the lookout for ways to further his skills had even mastered the art of hypnotism. A museum curator  that the web of myth and mystery surrounding the world of the ninja fired people’s imaginations and for this reason the ninja lives on.

Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana killed in Gaza

For those who may have missed it, this is the Reuters story reporting the killing of Reuters cameraman Fadel Shana in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday. It is a tragic loss and I would like to add my condolences to his family, friends and colleagues.

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Reuters cameraman killed in Gaza 

By Nidal al-Mughrabi

GAZA (Reuters) – A Reuters cameraman was killed in the Gaza Strip on Wednesday in what appeared to be an Israeli military strike.

Fadel Shana, 23, was covering events in the enclave for the international news agency on a day of intense violence when 16 other Palestinians and three Israeli soldiers were also killed.

Italy’s virtual election

The casual observer could be forgiven for wondering whatever happened to the Italian election. For a country which prides itself on the “colourful” antics of its political class, this year the vote was devoid of spectacle and celebration, which photographers prey upon. Silvio Berlusconi won the prime minister’s post after Walter Veltroni conceded defeat in a deadpan speech in Rome, and the best Silvio could do was telephone a few TV stations to say he was “moved”. I pleaded with our staff photographers to provide reaction pictures from party supporters either on the winning or losing side, but it was the equivalent of an emotional dustbowl in the streets of Rome. The only things missing were tumbleweeds blowing through the streets like in a Spaghetti Western. I’ve seen countless election campaigns in my career but this goes into the books as the dullest one… As a colleague noted, due to the stagnant economy this was probably a good election to lose, which may explain the lack of fanfare. 

Berlusconi
 
On the plus side, freelance photographers will be happy at the result. Whether or not one supports him, one thing is as sure as the sun rises — Silvio Berlusconi sells photos. Freelancers tell me that their incomes go up significantly during a Berlusconi term, now his third, because he creates news. The grey outgoing prime minister, Romano Prodi, failed to generate the same amount of editorial interest as his predecessor. Now, although the Italian economy may be in the doldrums, at least some of my colleagues can benefit.

The World’s Worst Road……UPDATE 1!!!!!

     Well……..I don’t believe it!!! It’s happened. If you’ve read my last blog, ‘The Road West of Kangding’ you know that I called that particular road ‘the worst road in the world’. Well….guess what….there is much worse.

     Travelling with Chris Buckley, Reuters Beijing-base correspondent, we flew to Chengdu in Sichuan Province in China’s south-west to try and get into areas where we had heard that violent demonstrations regarding Tibet had occurred. The reports stated that buildings had been damaged, thousands of riot police and soliders had been deployed, hundreds of local Tibetans had been arrested and Buddhist temples were surrounded. So with Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao telling the world that such troubles were over less than a week after these reports, and there were no independent witnesses to verify this, we wanted to find out.

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     We decided to travel on a local bus north-east from Chengdu to the city of Mianyang, from where we would decide what to do next. Looking back, we should have realised that the number of police roadblocks we saw, just going that far, was an indication of what we would encounter over the next few days.

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