Photographers' Blog

Seeing world leaders at shoe level

Davos, Switzerland

By Denis Balibouse

Seeing world leaders at shoe level – you can tell a lot about them.

Last week my colleague Pascal Lauener and I covered the annual meeting of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in the Alpine ski resort of Davos in Switzerland. According to its website the WEF is “an independent international organization committed to improving the state of the world by engaging business, political, academic and other leaders of society to shape global, regional and industry agendas.”

The 2,500 participants can take their pick from 258 official sessions over a four-day period. Some only come for informal meetings in the hotels surrounding Davos’ congress center, where discreet talks covering business, politics and deal-making thrive away from the spotlight. Contracts are signed, soirees take place, deals are made.

For some reason, wire agency photographers can access all sessions in order to photograph the participants. Some sessions are not open to the reporting press, as talks are held under The Chatham House Rule, which requires that you can make use of the information dispersed at an event, but can not divulge or mention the identity or affiliation of those involved in the event.

Plenary sessions are held in the biggest hall but all other sessions are held in smaller rooms with 100 to 200 seats. Our movements had to be discreet, meaning that we took pictures at the front before the start of a session and moved to the back of the room once the session started. Live TV capturing talks by broadcasters required that our movements be kept to a minimum. A side effect of this restriction was that our up-front position gave us a direct view of the speakers’ footwear, in all its diversity. If you’re one who subscribes to the idea that you can tell a lot about a person by their footwear, being a wire agency photographer at the WEF provides you with some plum pop psychology moments.

Can you spot the intruder in the combination of pictures above? (answer at the bottom of the blog)

Big shoes to fill

By Carlos Barria

Eight years ago, Chen Mingzhi quit his factory job and became a shoe designer. But it was slow going at first, so he passed the time honing his skill by making smaller and smaller shoes.

A couple of years later, a neighbor challenged him to do something outside his comfort zone — to create a giant shoe.

Chen accepted the challenge and started right away. “I wanted to prove that I could do it”, Chen said later.

A mile in her shoes

By Stephen Lam

Call it goofy, weird, fun.

It’s been quite a while since I’ve been tasked to photograph something with all the above. As photojournalists, we are always on the hunt for compelling images that give our audience a ‘feel’ of the scene. That said, it’s not an everyday event where your photo assignment puts a focus on people’s shoes.

I was given such an assignment recently to photograph the tenth annual Walk A Mile In Her Shoes annual event in the city of San Jose where men, women, teens, and adults walked a mile in high-heels around city blocks to raise awareness for sexual violence.

According to the Department of Justice’s 2010 National Crime Victimization Survey, 268,574 cases of rape and sexual assaults were reported. To put it in perspective, that translates into a case occurring every two minutes. While the numbers have fallen dramatically in recent years, there are still many unreported cases and it’s very sad to see such staggering numbers.