Photographers' Blog

The most wanted photograph in China

Jinan, China

By Carlos Barria

As the morning approached, reporters, photographers and cameramen from national and foreign media organizations gathered outside the Jinan Intermediate People’s Court to cover the final chapter in the trial of disgraced Chinese politician Bo Xilai.

The stage for this story was Jinan, in the northeastern coastal province of Shandong. This story had all the elements of a great thriller: power, corruption, romance and murder. With no access to the courtroom itself, the foreign media and the general public relied on images provided by the court for glimpses of the trial. Also, for the first time China’s judicial system provided court transcripts, published on Weibo, China’s version of Twitter.

The opportunities for photographing Bo Xilai stood at about zero. Authorities only allowed media to stake out the courthouse from a fenced area across the street, and even there we had to go through a security scan to get in. Some journalists complained that during the first morning of the trial police denied them movement in and out of this area to cover protests that were going on nearby.

With little room to move, photographers started to think about how to photograph Bo, who hadn’t been seen since March of 2012 during a political event. The only chance we could see was his arrival to and exit from the court. But all the vehicles coming and going from the building used tinted glass.

There is a way to take a picture through tinted glass using a flash and holding the camera right against the window, but considering the tight security around the convoy, that seemed impossible. So the last resort was to shoot with a zoom lens right through the front windshield, which was not tinted.

The Ruby sex gate, my cell phone and Massoud

Milan, Italy

By Alessandro Garofalo

“Do you know how Ahamad Massoud died?”

It’s not a quiz but a question addressed to us a few days ago by an employee from the secretary of the Public Prosecutor’s office when we asked why photographers were not allowed to bring photographic equipment into the court during the trials involving the former dancer Maroc, Karima El Mahroug, better knew as Ruby Heartstealer, in the sexgate scandal with former Italian Premier Silvio Berlusconi, accused of inciting the prostitution of a minor and abuse of power.

For a long time here in Milan we used to wait for Berlusconi and various protagonists of his different trials outside the courthouse because a measure prohibits filming in the courtroom for safety reasons.

But as we know, there is always someone who feels smart, especially when we talk about Italy – business is business. The channel networks want the scoop to broadcast in the news and the newspapers want to publish pictures on their front page. So, disregarding the bans, some editors and colleagues started to shoot video and take pictures with mobile phones, regardless of quality.

The Amanda Knox lottery

By Alessandro Bianchi

On my mind was the number 77; the number of my press badge and the number I gave to police to get through security at the entrance to the court house.

Within a few minutes, the stepladders of photographers and television crews formed a pyramid that could block your view if you had chosen the wrong place. It was like a lottery and you had to wait to see if you had picked the right number.

The day before the verdict in the Amanda Knox appeal trial there were so many of us that the public, almost as if we were part of a show, pulled on our shirts and moved our ladders so they could see. The public were, after all, invading our 15 minutes, our sacred 15 minutes.