Photographers' Blog

Revisited – A new life in Germany

By Marcelo del Pozo

Over a year ago now, I was looking for a way to put a human face to the story of Spain’s unemployment crisis – a crisis that is still affecting the country today, with around one in four workers without a job.

GALLERY: A new life with 250 euros

I sent messages to lots of my friends, asking them if they knew any Spaniards thinking of emigrating to find employment. At last, I met Jose Manuel Abel, a former salesman from southern Spain, who, after being unemployed for two years, decided to learn some German and move to Munich for a job to help support his family.

Jose Manuel Abel (C), 46, has lunch with his wife Oliva Santos (L), 45, daughter Claudia (2nd L), 13, son Jose Manuel (R), 16 and mother Carmen Herrera, 71, in Chipiona in this June 28, 2012 file photograph. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo/Files

Jose Manuel Abel, 46, walks to his flight at San Pablo airport in Seville in this June 29, 2012 file photograph. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo/Files

I took pictures as Jose Manuel said goodbye to his wife and children, got on the plane and started work in a restaurant owned by a friend of his.

One year later, I decided to go back and see what had become of him.

In many ways, I found good news. Jose Manuel’s situation has really improved over the last year. He stopped working in the restaurant kitchen, but he managed to get a job with a company that runs a fruit and vegetable warehouse in the city.

Jose Manuel Abel (L), 47, and his colleague Omar arrange boxes as they work in a fruit and vegetable warehouse in Munich October 10, 2013. REUTERS/Marcelo del Pozo

He now has a good position there with a permanent contract, he earns more money than he used to, and he speaks much better German.

A return to the land in Spain

Murcia, Spain

By Susana Vera

The silence of a sleepy town and the flickering light of the street lamps greet Jorge Ibanez as he leaves his home before the crack of dawn in Pozo Estrecho, in the southeastern Spanish region of Cartagena, Murcia. With his baseball hat on and a cooler in his hand, he approaches a couple of men on a corner. They exchange timid hellos and engage in conversation as they wait for the car that will drive them to a potato field ready to be harvested.

Ibanez is a 20-year-old Spanish day laborer. A pair of rotten gloves and his baseball hat are his work uniform, a group of Moroccan men his work companions. Together they set out every morning to collect thousands of pounds of potatoes that will end up in the kitchens of northern Europe.

Different fields every day, but always the same sight: row after row of round yellow potatoes waiting to be picked up. Tractors work at night unearthing the tubers so that the day laborers can start collecting them as soon as the sun rises. Extreme heat is not good for potatoes, so the workers have to rush to finish before midday, when the sun is at its peak and the heat starts becoming unbearable, both for them and the spuds.

From Madrid to heaven

By Sergio Perez

There is a local proverb which goes, “De Madrid al Cielo” (From Madrid to heaven). Coinciding with efforts to illustrate a story on energy reform, I thought I’d try to show the phrase is actually quite true. For weeks we solicited access to four of the Spanish capital’s tallest skyscrapers at a business complex known as “Four Towers” (“Cuatro Torres”) which includes the the PwC (Price Waterhouse Coopers) Tower.

The PwC Tower, named after the company that rents most of the office space in a building owned by Spanish construction company Sacyr, is the third tallest skyscraper in Madrid and it is the sixth tallest in Europe with 58 floors soaring to 236 meters (774 feet) high.

We were finally given access to photograph from the 53rd floor, the highest floor in public use as the final five floors house equipment such as air conditioning and heating systems as well as other operational material. The building is home to a five-star hotel and the headquarters of the well known audit firm.

A special performance

Madrid, Spain

By Susana Vera

Luismi Astorga clasps his hands as he lifts his head up to the sky. He’s waiting to take the stage at a music club in Madrid where his dance group, Fusionarte, is taking part in a charity gala.

Astorga closes his eyes and begins to pray. The click of my camera breaks his concentration and he smiles at me as he proceeds to tell me, “Waiting makes me nervous.”

It’s not the first time Astorga has faced the thrill of performing for a live audience. He has been dancing with Fusionarte since Argentine choreographer and dancer Pau Vazquez formed the group six years ago with the aim of introducing dance to people with special needs.

Riding through flames and fury

San Bartolome de Pinares, Spain

By Sergio Perez

Despite its relative short distance from Madrid, around 100km (62 miles), I have never been in the small village of San Bartolome de Pinares. It is situated in the heart of a small valley surrounded by reservoirs and forest and is well known to trekkers and cyclists alike. However, a traditional night celebration which takes place every January 16th, known as “Las Luminarias”, is little known.

During the celebration, in honor of Saint Anthony, Patron of animals, revelers ride their horses through the narrow cobble-stoned streets to purify the animals with the smoke and flames of the bonfires.

The feeling when you arrive for the first time is that the whole village enjoys a festivity of which you are a part. Around two hours before it begins, all riders prepare their horses, bandaging the tail to protect them from the fire and decorating the manes of the animals.

A bloody summer

Mexico City, Mexico

By Edgard Garrido

The truth is that there are lots of viewpoints, myths, interests, ignorance and bigotry when it comes to bullfighting. It’s undeniable – beyond being against or for it – that bullfights are a historical and cultural event, and a reality that I couldn’t ignore as a photographer in Mexico.  During a month this past Mexican summer I photographed bullfights, ones that in the end were not particularly bloody for the toreros but certainly were for the bulls and, I have to admit, for my emotions as well.

Stepping into the world of toreros was easy and difficult at the same time. Easy because the people are friendly, and difficult because it was, and still is, an unfamiliar world to me.

I went to the Plaza Mexico, the largest bull ring in the world, to get permission to photograph a bullfight. Indoors there were photographs, sculptures, capes, muletas, and swords, and outside there was the arena. Everywhere was the smell of animals. On the day of my first bullfight I found myself standing in a hallway in front of a horse dressed in yellow padding, banderilleros, matadors and monosabios (workers who pick up the dead bulls).

Remembering Felix Ordonez

By Paul Hanna

I looked at the clock, it was 4:47am, the ringing phone that had woken me was flashing the photographer’s name, Felix Ordoñez. I thought, “What the hell?” as I struggled to achieve some form of consciousness before answering. By the serious tone of Felix’s voice on the other end of the phone, I became immediately aware that something terrible had happened. “Buenos dias Paul, un coche bomba enorme acaba de estallar en Burgos,” (Paul, good morning, a huge car bomb just exploded in Burgos) were his first words. It was July 29, 2009, and ETA, the basque separatist rebels, had just blown up an enormous civil guards barracks in his home town of Burgos, only fifteen minutes earlier. Felix was already there, shooting pictures, describing the scene to me, and telling me that he would be transmitting pictures very soon.

I thought this anecdote was appropriate as a tribute to Felix’s professionalism and dedication. The scene sprang to mind vividly this morning when I received a call with news of his tragic and untimely death. Last night, after covering a Champions League soccer match in Madrid, Felix died after suffering a devastating heart attack as he drove back to his home town of Burgos.

PORTFOLIO: FELIX ORDONEZ

Felix started working for Reuters in the 1990’s, mainly covering soccer in the beginning. Soon afterwards, his talent led to many assignments of all varieties in Spain and abroad for Reuters, including the 2004, 2008 and 2012 Euro soccer championships in Portugal, Austria and Ukraine, as well as the 2006 World Cup in Germany.

Demolition of a gypsy community

Madrid, Spain

By Susana Vera

I remember the first time I saw Milagros Echevarria. She was in her house slippers, battling with the rubble piled up outside her home, with only a simple broom as a weapon. It was like watching David face Goliath.

The short, sturdy woman was working doggedly. She would only stop to remove rotting garbage from the debris and toss it into a nearby dumpster. “If I don’t do this every day, rats are going to eat us alive”, she told me. In the months that followed, I witnessed the same scene over and over, even when the rubbish threatening to invade her home had become the actual remains of the house itself.

GALLERY: GYPSY COMMUNITY DEMOLISHED

Milagros moved to the Spanish gypsy settlement of Puerta de Hierro in 1974, as a young girl of 12, still wearing pigtails. At the age of 13 she married her cousin Antonio Gabarri and by 14 she was pregnant with their first child, Carolina.

Spain’s pain

By Jon Nazca

SLIDESHOW: SPAIN’S AUSTERITY PAIN

I have taken a look back through the archives for the first pictures illustrating the crisis in Spain. It was a story about a protest of goat herders and farmers in Malaga in May 2008. They protested with their goats to demand measures from the government to solve the crisis they were facing.

Months later, Spanish truck drivers protested against the rising fuel costs paralyzing the country for several days.

Protests and demonstrations continued until the Spanish people woke up on May 15, 2011 with the 15-M movement, also known as The Indignants, protesting against the ongoing financial crisis, politicians and bankers. The Spanish Revolution began and with it came endless revolutionary images.

A new life with 250 Euros

By Marcelo del Pozo

It’s five o’clock in the morning and I find myself in a place and situation that I’m sure I shouldn’t be in, much less taking pictures.

Jose Manuel Abel, his wife Olive and their two children, Claudia, 13, and Jose Manuel, 16, were crying and hugging one another as they didn’t know when would be the next time they would see each other.

SLIDESHOW: NEW COUNTRY, NEW LIFE

Abel, from southern Spain, is one of a growing number of Spaniards moving to Germany for work after failing to find a job at home. He has to leave his wife and children behind for the time being, but sees no other choice. Abel, who used to work as a salesman during Spain’s boom years, selling insurance, books, water filters and vending machines, has been unemployed for more than two years. With about one in four people jobless, he sees few prospects working at home and has taken a job in Munich working in the kitchen of a Spanish restaurant owned by a Spanish-German friend.