Photographers' Blog

How would you like your doner, with or without a gas mask?

Istanbul, Turkey

By Marko Djurica

Everyone who has ever been to Istanbul knows their famed Turkish fast food restaurants, especially in Taksim Square. Doners, kebabs and other delicacies are on offer 24/7. The competition is vast and every vendor fights to lure customers. You can’t really go wrong: most of the places have friendly staff and tasty morsels of food. But in one restaurant I experienced a kind of service I could never have dreamed of.

Namely, on June 22 I was in Taksim Square covering the protests that had begun 20 days earlier when the government of Prime Minister Erdogan announced it would build a new shopping mall on Gezi Park, the last large green space in the city. A large number of protesters faced down a line of riot police armed with water cannons. No one needed to tell me what was going to happen; I have been in similar situations many times. The demonstrators shouted anti-government slogans, the police asked them to disperse because rallies are forbidden. Naturally, after a few hours, tensions rose and the police began to use water cannons and tear gas to evict the masses – now a common sight at Taksim.

Even though at first glance it was frightening, it seemed that both sides could get used to this. Tear gas rained down on all sides and so many canisters landed in front of the mass of kebab stands, the open kind which lack windows and doors to hide from the gas burning your eyes and throat. I decided to go inside and take photos, expecting empty tables, chairs flung pell-mell and charred food abandoned on the grill. But what I saw instead stunned me.

The entire restaurant’s operation: cooks, waiters and cashiers were working in a normal, orderly fashion from behind their gas masks and tried to help guests in the hopes of keeping them there for yet another kebab and beer. A small number of the guests ran outside but the majority of them, evidently prepared for the tear gas with makeshift gas masks fashioned out of swimming goggles and surgical masks, remained. The waiters politely brought customers their bills, the cook deftly manned the grill, flipping burgers. The only time he appeared a bit confused was when he noticed me photographing him.

They tried to tell me something, but communicating from behind a mask was near impossible. The police calmly walked past the restaurant and somehow it was possible to get the impression that this was a totally normal evening. Or maybe that I, as a Reuters photojournalist, was somehow the main target of a hidden camera prank.

In the face of tear gas

Istanbul, Turkey

By Osman Orsal

I am always prepared for these kind of protests before I arrive.

I wear shirts that cover my arms and of course I carry a gas mask. After all, during protests I can safely predict through my experience when police will use tear gas.

So, I took a secure, good position for shooting images. After taking 3-4 photos it is hard for everyone (even if you have a gas mask) to continue taking pictures because of the tear gas. I followed exactly this procedure with this protest.

After the demonstration was over I saw other people affected by tear gas pouring fresh lemon in their eyes. It is believed to be a kind of a healer after tear gas. But I couldn’t see this woman around. She probably went somewhere to wash her face and refresh herself for the next battle. The protesters said they wouldn’t let destruction crews cut down the trees.

from Russell Boyce:

Asia – A week in pictures July 10, 2011

I am not a gamer at all but while looking at the file this week was reminded of a facility on electronic gaming my son showed me that allows you to see a different view point of the action. You can have wide, close and closer still. Two pictures of police beating protesters with batons have been shot as close as you can possibly get to the action but for sure this is no game.  Philippines based Romeo (Bobby) Ranoco picture is actually so close that it has been shot over the shoulder of the soldier, who, judging by the blood on the head of the unarmed protester, seems to have scored at least one direct hit . In India  and shot just slightly wider is Jayanta Dey's picture. The fact that it is shot slightly wider makes sure we are aware that it is actually three soldiers beating a protester and not one. The line of composition created by the baton and the flexed arm creating a perfect compositional triangle - Although I am not sure the protester would actually care about that. 

An anti-riot policeman hits a protester with a baton at a rally against what protesters claim to be U.S. intervention outside the U.S. embassy in Manila July 4, 2011. Filipino and U.S. troops are holding exercises in the Sulu Sea off the western Philippine province of Palawan, which lies near the disputed Spratly Islands. Conflicting territorial claims by several countries over the Spratlys and Paracels are raising tensions in Asia. Besides the Philippines, China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei are claiming the islands as theirs. REUTERS/Romeo Ranoco

A policeman wields a baton against an activist of India's Congress party during a protest in Agartala, located in northeastern Indian state of Tripura July 10. 2011. Police used batons to disperse activists on Sunday protesting against the state's alleged discriminatory policies towards reservation of seats in local medical colleges, local media reported. REUTERS/Jayanta Dey

from Russell Boyce:

Demonstrating in Indonesia – Don’t forget your tooth brush

 It's a big day in Jakarta. The parliamentary committee that has been investigating a bank bailout for months is due to present its findings, so that members of parliament can decide the fate of two of Indonesia's top reformers, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Vice President Boediono regarding their decision to bailout small lender Bank Century. So you decide to protest at the gates of Parliament. You need to be prepared, you need to be equipped. You will face riot police, baton charges, razor wire, water canon and thrown bricks and bottles and tear gas. What will you decide to take? Packed into your bag will be a banner (with additional pole that acts as a lance), a helmet to protect your head from projectiles, of course political motivation............and don't forget your toothbrush.

teeth cleaning

A student pretends to brush his teeth as police use water cannons to disperse protesters outside the parliament building in Jakarta  March 2, 2010, where the parliamentary inquiry committee's recommendations over the Bank Century rescue is being held. A parliamentary probe failed on Tuesday to resolve bitter divisions over the fate of Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati and Vice President Boedino, two key pro-market lawmakers in Indonesia's cabinet, signalling conflict over economic reform would continue.  REUTERS/Beawiharta

 What would you take to ensure that your voice was heard at a demonstration and that you catch the eye of soaked Reuters staff photographer Bea?