Photographers' Blog

Eleven hours

When I heard the news, I headed immediately to the scene; that’s what news photographers do.

I remembered a few days earlier I was reading a blog about Reuters photographer Shannon Stapleton going towards the biggest crime scene of recent times; Ground Zero in New York. A silly smile filled my face as, of course, my scene was a grain of sand in the desert compared to what Shannon faced on 9/11.

The breaking news was that a man had locked himself inside a lawyer’s office with his daughter and with what appeared to be a bomb strapped to himself, in west Sydney. After parking only 3 blocks away, I picked up a Canon Mark IV with a 500mm lens as my main camera, my second set up as spare with a 70-200mm, two bags with wide lenses, flash, extra batteries and my laptop to file from the scene and then: I ran.

Arriving at the scene my first concern was that the main subject was behind a window. Usually when stories are related to windows it involves a long wait. Almost every photographer can certify that. From sportsmen to celebrities, politicians or criminals, if the media is pointing to a window, 90% of the times the story heads for a long wait.

Soon after pointing my 500mm lens at the window, the face of the subject appeared for a few seconds and I took ten pictures. In coordination with the Reuters pictures desk in Singapore my first frame hit the Reuters wire within 3 minutes.

Strauss-Kahn: The stakeout, the courthouse and the lookout


It was the kind of day every photographer dreads – pouring rain and a 15-hour stakeout. Not only were my shoes soaked through, but my only flash had drowned by the time I arrived at the NYPD Special Victims Unit headquarters in Harlem. By 8:30am, a mix of French and American media had gathered behind the police station, awaiting IMF chief Dominique Strauss-Kahn’s perp walk.

Once seen as a strong contender for next year’s French presidential elections, Strauss-Kahn was now being charged with the attempted rape of a Manhattan hotel maid. We were informed the night before that he would be brought to his arraignment around noon. But as in all situations, things rarely go as planned; we knew we were in for a long wait. I was posted at the front entrance for most of the day and at 4:00pm, senior Reuters photographer Mike Segar motioned for me to join him in the crowd of 50+ journalists at the back of the station because it appeared that Strauss Kahn was about to be led out.

This was just the beginning of the countless false starts of the night, peppered with speculation, coffee runs, pizza deliveries and high anxiety. Seven hours later, at 11:00pm, I was perched on a small stool, sandwiched between a videographer’s armpit and a photographer’s elbow, when suddenly it happened. Silent and angry, Strauss-Kahn came out cuffed, staring straight ahead – a trophy escorted by five detectives. I had planned to shoot available light from the video cameras, but at the last second, another photographer offered to lend me a flash. Just as DSK was being guided into the car he looked straight at me, but said nothing. I leaned on the shutter and prayed that the flash would penetrate the glass of the window. Et voilà!

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