Photographers' Blog

London’s pub culture

By Eddie Keogh

“There’s an old fashioned East End welcome waiting for you.” There’s a good chance you’ll read that quote on the pre-Olympic hype about London. But only those with a sense of adventure will really see and feel it.

Most spectators visiting the Games will enter the park via the shiny new Westfield shopping center. There you can take time out in Starbucks, Costa Coffee, McDonald’s, Nando’s, Pizza Express or even TGI Friday’s. Now I’d put good money on most of our visitors knowing these brands from whichever corner of the world they’re from. But will they have experienced The King Edward VII, The Lord Cardigan.

The Cart and Horses, The Adam and Eve or even The Bow Bells. Now that’s visiting London and the landlord’s and ladies and the people inside those pubs are the real Eastenders.

London’s first pubs appeared as public places where people could gather and drink. This dates back as far as the Romans, but are first thought to have become a common sight in the Anglo-Saxon period, when people opened their homes as alehouses. When the Romans finally withdrew from Britain they left behind the start of the modern pub and in 965 King Edgar decreed that there should be one Ale House in every village in England.

But each pub has a history and a story to tell. The Bow Bells is haunted by a ghost that has a habit of flushing the toilet in the ladies when patrons happen to be sitting on it!

Soccer SWAT team

By Peter Andrews

Through my Polish police contacts, I learned that members of various SWAT teams and the border guards would hold a special training exercise in the town of Zamosc. The exercise was conducted as part of preparations by the Polish special forces leading up to the EURO 2012 soccer tournament, to be held in Poland and Ukraine this summer. This training event was to be observed by various representatives from different countries.

As I arrived at the military training ground, I realized that some of the instructors were my old friends whom I have known for as many as eighteen years. It helped me immensely to be accepted by people who were being trained. The forces were divided into three teams of SWAT and border guards being trained on different public transport vehicles, in various techniques of approaching a hijacked bus followed by mastering the techniques of entering and rescuing hostages from inside the vehicle.

Witnessing dozens of similar exercises I’m always amazed by the speed and agility with which these men can move. It also helps me understand how much time, effort and dedication they have to invest to be able to work with such precision.

The fight of their lives

By Kai Pfaffenbach

Steve Marcus, our Boxing expert in Las Vegas, is maybe the one and only photographer within the company who has shot more World Championship title bouts than I have throughout the last couple of years.

I shot “Iron” Mike Tyson in Copenhagen, South Africa’s “White Buffalo” Francois Botha on several comebacks, I got my picture taken with Lennox Lewis after a fight I photographed and I followed the untouchable Klitschko brothers on their way to dominate the heavyweight class as only “The Greatest of All Times” (Muhammad Ali) did before!

But it was an IBF cruiserweight re-match which fascinated me the most. Steve “USS” Cunningham challenged Yoan-Pablo Hernandez from Cuba to get his title-belt back. Cruiserweight is as fast as middle-weight but the punch power is almost as much as heavyweight.

Super Bowl Redux

By Lucy Nicholson

Celtics v Lakers, Borg v McEnroe, India v Pakistan, Ali v Frazier, Red Sox v Yankees

There are sports matches and there are match-ups that up the ante because of a bitter rivalry.

There’s nothing fiercer than a Boston-New York contest.

For decades, Boston played the underdog while the ghost of Babe Ruth conspired with latter day Big Apple legends like Bucky Dent and Mookie Wilson to leave New England in tears.

Daredevils on Hahnenkamm mountain

By Leonhard Foeger and Lisi Niesner

Imagine a snow-covered mountain, imagine an 85 degree grade at the steepest point, imagine wearing a race suit, goggles and nothing else but a helmet and a back protector for safety. Now clip on your skis and speed straight down at a top speed of 90 miles per hour. Crazy, don’t you think?

We are talking specifically about the 3,312-meter-long “Streif” downhill course on Hahnenkamm mountain in the Austrian ski resort of Kitzbuehel. It is regarded as the most difficult track for racers and the most challenging assignment for photographers on the Alpine Ski World Cup calendar. Several racers have crashed in years past and some were seriously injured, but the winners gained immortality.

Early morning race day, skiers and photographers start to prepare to do their best work. Racers get ready at the starting area close to the top of Hahnenkamm inside a cozy tent next to the start house where they can stay warm and concentrate on their adventure of speed. On the other hand photographers have to carry their gear — which includes cameras, lenses and, of course, skis — up the hill to find a position to shoot action images on the course. They have to establish their positions at least one hour before the race starts. Sometimes the FIS race director moves photographers who could be standing in the way of a crash to a safer spot. Cold temperatures, snow and wind make photographers dress in very warm clothes, thick gloves and ski boots, while ski racers wear a thin race suit like thermal underwear to minimize wind resistance.

The Tebow phenom

By Rick Wilking

Do a Google search on this new celebrity and there are 299,000,000 results. Brad Pitt? No, he only has 187 million. I’m talking about the newest phenom in the world of sports – Tim Tebow.

Being a Denver-based photographer where Tebow plays starting quarterback for the Broncos has kept me in the vortex of the Tebow storm. Going back to his first start late last season and then training camp in August, we’ve been focusing on his young career. Would he start this year or would he not was the hot topic back in late summer. Kyle Orton was eventually chosen as starter but when the team went 1–4 Tebow got the nod and Orton was out. Then the fun really began.

Tebow was a superstar in college at the University of Florida (first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, won not one but two NCAA National Football Championships) but how would he do in the big leagues? He was a first round draft pick in the NFL meaning many had high hopes for him to succeed. But the NFL game is so much different than college there’s no guarantee a player will repeat. Scrambling around on the field can only go so far in the NFL before getting tackled repeatedly by much bigger and faster players will destroy you.
Being a rookie in the league with a great pedigree means extra attention to start with but then add this element: religion. I don’t think a sports writer out there can remember any athlete starting most press conferences with “First and foremost I have to thank my lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”

Climbing Eden Park

By Bogdan Cristel

After 40 hours of flying Bucharest – Amsterdam – Beijing – Auckland, I arrived in New Zealand; my first time in the Southern Hemisphere.

The first nice surprise here was that both my check-in pieces of luggage arrived on the same flight (I expected it to take a week and to be on the safe side packed a toothbrush in my hand luggage).

After a day of adjustment, with serious jet-leg (New Zealand is 9 hours ahead of Romania), slowly the Rugby World Cup started for me.

Shooting the Rugby World Cup

In the third installment, Sydney-based photographer Tim Wimborne describes what is necessary to keep the file fresh throughout the tournament and to satisfy different client needs.

In the second of a series of multimedia pieces, Bucharest-based photographer Bogdan Cristel talks about the focus required to cover the Rugby World Cup.

In the first of a series of multimedia pieces, London-based photographer Stefan Wermuth talks about the challenges he anticipates at the Rugby World Cup in New Zealand.

Swimming in a sea of pictures

Several weeks back I was told I would be having a serious case of the blues for a fortnight – processing pictures of the swimmers, divers and water polo players competing in the FINA World Championships in Shanghai. Pictures from the event would be edited by China chief photographer Petar Kujundzic and sent to me and my colleagues Karishma Singh and Allison Ching in Singapore to process and transmit to clients.

For two weeks, I would be looking at a sea of images where the main color was blue. So it made me nervous whenever I saw my least favorite color – green – appear on skin tones. It took constant communication with the on-site photographers and editor as well as the Picture Desk team here in Singapore, not to mention close scrutiny of the histogram in Photoshop, to ensure the athletes didn’t look jaundiced or ill. In fact, correcting the color on pictures taken in the swimming pool in Shanghai was as challenging as it was in Beijing three years ago when I processed aquatics images at the Olympics.

Speaking of challenges, I wonder if processing swimming pictures and physical “hardship” go hand in hand. In Beijing I was at the Water Cube, cut off from my colleagues at the media center and having to make a daily trek up 115 steps to the top of the press tribune area. I worked on a 14-inch laptop with barely an inch of elbow room, often perspiring in the warm environs. Here in Singapore, I was banished to a corner affectionately called Siberia because it is cold, quiet and almost hidden from view from the Picture Desk team. The lighting was rather dark, too. Editing images was done on a 17-inch monitor, which still cannot compare to the 22-inch Macintosh screens that the sub-editors on the Picture Desk work on every day.
But despite my complaints about the Water Cube, it was absolutely thrilling to watch the events unfold live before my eyes. Working on the FINA Championships pictures in a country removed from all the action lacks such excitement, but there still exists an adrenaline rush from subbing and sending them to the wire in the quickest time possible.

Tour de France 2011 – A long way to Paris

This year’s riders of the Tour de France covered 3430.5 km (2131.6 miles), divided into 21 stages, according to the Tour’s official website.

What you may not know is that the Reuters pictures team covering 2011′s most-watched sporting event managed to tally up some 10,000 km (6213 miles).

I was excited to cover the race but aware that despite careful planning, any big job can have its moments of near disaster. After meeting at the Reuters office in Paris with team leader (and Italy chief) photographer Stefano Rellandini and French photographer Pascal Rossignol we checked all our equipment, made sure our laptops were working, that our passwords were valid and that Mifi was setup. We picked up our local phones and configured wireless transmission devices from cameras. One thing’s for sure — the planning stage is essential on a big job like this, and a good team spirit never hurts either.

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