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Monday, 3 December 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa November 30, 2018

Baz Ratner’s picture has a stark beauty and symmetrical feel that draws you in. You are immediately grabbed by the bright red against the pale tones and you are slightly troubled that you can’t see the eyes. But the figure is relaxed and you the get an overwhelming sense of peace as you explore the image further. It’s then that you notice the carefully manicured beard that has a hint of henna and you become aware of the pale skin tones of a relaxed contestant  preparing for the Mr & Miss Albinism Kenya Beauty Pageant. You can see the full story here


A participant receives beauty treatment before the Mr & Miss Albinism Kenya Beauty Pageant 2018 in Nairobi, Kenya, November 30, 2018.   REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Images from the Middle East and Africa are often hard news, drained of colour and tough to look at, so a fun picture of people laughing that is stuffed full of colour caught my eye. Compositionally, Sumaya Hisham’s picture is nothing special. The event has been orchestrated and its news value is pretty low. But look at everyone’s face. They are just enjoying the moment and it’s that captured moment - smiles, eyes, teeth and hands - that makes me feel good. 


Youths pose for a photograph with Britain’s Prince Harry, during his visit to Circus Zambia in Lusaka, Zambia, November 27, 2018.    REUTERS/Sumaya Hisham

On the theme of colour, I struggled to choose between two of Zohra Bensema’s pictures so I will share them both. The first is a corridor of clothing, like the wardrobe in C.S Lewis’ The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe but much brighter, leading you to the biggest smile of the week, even though it quite small in the frame. The second is composed of blues, yellows, red and purples and the most eclectic set of portraits you can imagine. For the life of me I cannot find a link.  


A woman laughs while she feeds her baby at the corridor of her house in the Newtown neighbourhood of Accra, Ghana November 27, 2018.   REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

A street vendor sits beside her stall in Jamestown, Accra, Ghana November 28, 2018.   REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

In Feisal Omar’s picture your eye is troubled by the chaos of what is going on and cannot quite settle. It might be the colour, the two men larking about, the random criss-crossing of the building structure or even the raw meat hanging from the rack.  It takes a while to get to grips with what is actually going on. These men have set up their butcher’s shop a day after it was destroyed by a bomb blast, so no wonder we feel unsettled.  It’s hard to imagine what they are feeling. 

A butcher hangs meat in the ruins of his butchery, destroyed following an explosion in Wadajir district in Mogadishu, Somalia November 27, 2018.   REUTERS/Feisal Omar 

The more closely you look at Mohamed al-Sayaghi’s picture the better it gets. First you get the white sleeved arm sweeping in from the right to meet the bold black shape that stretches into fingers at the focal point of the child’s squished face. The mouth pushed open, highlights catching the boy’s eyes, and then at last you see the tiny droplet of vaccination caught perfectly between dropper and mouth.   


A Boy is administrated vitamin A drops during an anti-polio vaccination campaign in Sanaa, Yemen November 26, 2018.   REUTERS/ Mohamed al-Sayaghi


 There is no escaping the strong diagonal that leads from bottom right to top left in Amr Abdullah Dalsh’s picture. Visually it’s like a hill that is being climbed. I love the bold shapes and the blacks and reds that are not only in the clothing but echoed in the writing on the wall. Maybe it’s my imagination, but it feels like the child is reaching up to achieve something for the future, the mother is busy working hard to achieve something now and the abstract figure looks like some free and futuristic symbol sprinting away. Is the writing on the wall? Enjoy the full story here


A woman, with her daughter, writes messages of support during the first Egyptian Woman’s race to raise awareness about violence against women in Cairo, Egypt, November 30, 2018.   REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

An interesting swirling composition in Ronen Zvulun’s picture is enhanced by the yellow neon of the night lights. It gives us an almost abstract bird’s eye view of a demonstration in Jerusalem. It’s only after we have looked at this for a while that the surrounded vehicles give us a clue to scale and a figurative sense.  


Israeli ultra-Orthodox men protest against the detention of a member of their community who refuses to serve in the Israeli army, in Jerusalem November 28, 2018.  REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

It’s officially colour week and I am always a sucker for complimentary colours, reds and greens especially. Add a strong sense of scale, as Muhammad Hamed has done in his picture, and it’s almost a dead cert for my weekly selection. What saves the visual flow of this picture is that the child is looking directly out of the frame and not out to the right of the picture, as that would have destroyed the flow. 


A Syrian child runs next to a mural at Al-Zaatari refugee camp, which is located near the Jordanian city of Mafraq, close to the border with Syria November 28, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohammad Hamed




Friday, 23 November 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa November 23, 2018


This surreal picture from Mike Hutchings has caught my eye. No matter how hard you look at it you have no idea what is going on until you read the story. Why is the dog being thrown out of the hole? What is the man doing? And why is the hole in the middle of nowhere – you can see an empty landscape to the far horizon. If this isn’t a ‘click on picture to find out more’ I don’t know what is. 


Suidlander movement spokesman Simon Roche shows a cache of supplies near Van der Kloof, South Africa, October 29, 2018.    REUTERS/Mike Hutchings 


It’s all in the detail. Take a minute to look at the position and timing of all the feet and hands in Muhammad Hamad’s arrival picture. Heels just about to touch red carpet, toes pointing up, each stride a perfect inverted V shape. All this left-to-right movement is countered by the figure on the right reaching out left, with all this captured at the moment when Jordan’s King Abdullah looks up and across to his guest.  

Jordan’s king Abdullah welcomes Abu Dhabi’s Crown Prince Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al-Nahyan at Amman military airport, Jordan November 20, 2018.   REUTERS/Muhammed Hamed

A picture of a fishermen casting his net should conjure up thoughts of calm open spaces set in a beautiful seascape. Not so in Thierry Gouegnon’s picture. Even though the moment of casting is beautifully captured, the figures’ reflection is unbroken on the water and the boats are perfectly placed, the image is one of ugliness. A tide of plastic waste reaches up to engulf the fishermen, the grey skies appear heavy with pollution, squeezing the men into a sliver of grey water that seems to be covered with a film of filth and oil.     

Men fish in water just off from a shore line covered in plastic items and other debris in Abidjan, Ivory Coast November 21, 2018.   REUTERS/Thierry Gouegnon

Ammar Awad’s picture is a slow burn, easily overlooked. It’s so busy, with harsh and unforgiving light, that your eye darts about looking for a resting place. But I think that is its strength as you slowly come to realise, through the sea of faces, that it’s a picture of a band playing. Through the visual whirl and heat you begin to hear the instruments: clash clash clash of the cymbals, ting, ting, ting of the percussion instruments on the right, and finally the blare of trumpets. I also have to mention the saluting face on the right, cropped in half – love it. 



Musicians play music during a ceremony to celebrate Prophet Mohammad’s birth anniversary on the compound known to Muslims as Noble Sanctuary and to Jews as temple Mount in the Old City of Jerusalem November 20, 2018.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad 

This is one of those weeks when many of the images from the region are complex in their shape and design and don’t jump easily into my page. As an antidote to that I include Amr Abdallah Dalsh’s picture for its simplicity and strength of graphic shape. 

The sun sets on the minarets and the Great Pyramids of Giza in old Cairo, Egypt November 19, 2018.   REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

For a moment captured it would be hard to beat Amr Abdallah Dalsh’s picture of a falcon catching a hare. True it was shot at an exhibition of falconry, so hardly a moment frozen in the wild. But by being lucky or good, Amr has for sure got the moment. Claws just about to start digging, the falcon’s eyes are focused on its running prey. The hare, its ears still pricked up, is not quite aware that it has been caught. All shot in front of a clean background. I’d like to think that this is all part of the show and the hare is returned to its cage to run another day. But I suspect not and it is just another meal.   

A hunting falcon catches a hare during a celebration by Egyptian clubs and austringers on World Falconry Day at Borg al-Arab desert in Alexandria, Egypt, November 17, 2018.   REUTERS/Amr Abdullah Dalsh 



Friday, 16 November 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa November 16, 2018


Again the thorny ethical issue of using pictures of dead children has come to the fore. Mohamed al-Sayaghi was present at the hospital when tiny Hajar died of malnutrition in Yemen, a story that must be told while respecting the feelings of the parents. Permission was granted to take photographs. Mohamed had stark images of the doctor carrying away the child’s limp, dead body but editors decided these were just too brutal to move to the network. Aware of this potential concern when photographing, Mohamed carefully shifted focus from the body to the child’s mother in the background, so we are spared the sight of a dead child but starkly aware of the sadness of this death. I have also included the tender image of Hajar’s father gently holding her tiny and emaciated hand, an image that makes sadness well up in me. You can see the whole story here but please be aware it’s distressing.   

The mother of four-month-old Hajar Saleh Hassan al-Faqeh, who died at the malnutrition ward of al-Sabeen hospital, walks by as a nurse holds her daughter’s body in Sanaa, Yemen November 15, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Saleh Hassan al-Faqeh, holds the hand of his four-month-old daughter Hajar Saleh Hassan al-Faqeh, who died at the malnutrition ward of al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen November 15, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi

Amir Cohen’s picture of lightning has a visual feel of a painting created by the slow shutter speed combined with the slow movement of the waves. Adding to this sense of a painting are the complementary colours of the purple and yellow: the Impressionists often closely juxtaposed these colours. Throw in the jagged hard lines of the strike and you have the enjoyable contrast of the soft movements of shape and colour contrasted with the hard lines. Wonderful.  

Lightning strikes over the Mediterranean Sea during a rain storm near the city of Ashkelon, Israel, November 14, 2018.    REUTERS/Amir Cohen 

What catches my eye in Faisal Al Nasser’s picture is the warm colour of the woman’s face set against the cool tones and monochromatic backdrop of the poster of the Saudi Crown Prince and the circular swirl of its design. I love the compositional curve in the picture that takes you around from the eyes and the line of the Crown Prince’s beard through the line of the arm and hand holding the mobile phone into the face of the woman posing for the picture. 

Participants take photos next to a picture of saudi Crown prince Mohammed bi Salmon during the Misk Global Forum in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, November 14, 2018.   REUTERS/Faisal al Nasser

A very clever use of scale by Muhammad Hamed turns a security picture into something a little more special. Do we need to keep the top of the helmet of the security officer in the foreground in the frame? I think not. The careful crop keeps your eye contained and squeezed into the frame to look at the tiny figure set against a clean background. His raised arms provide enough visual interest to keep the viewer busy with this open spaced and bold image. 

Jordanian security personnel stand guard during the trial of those accused of staging an attack on December 2016 on a Crusader castle in Karak, at the State security court in Amman, Jordan November 13, 2018.   REUTERS/Muhammad Hamad

Harsh light, strong shadows creating flat shapes and abstract lines all make for a powerful picture by Ronen Zvulun of the pock holes of shrapnel after a missile attack. The flat ‘cut out’ figures give us a sense of scale. Would I have cropped off the blue sky and greenery on the top of the frame? Yes I would, to ensure the image is completely devoid of any colour, reminding me of the importance of subtle cropping. But now I am nit-picking a picture that already works very well. 

A man is silhouetted as he stands near a house damaged by a rocket fired from the Gaza strip, in the Israeli city of Ashkelon, November 13, 2018.    REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

When a politician makes a bold move there is often no stronger image than a direct eye contact portrait and this is never truer than in Ammar Awad's powerful press conference portrait. It never ceases to amaze me how you are drawn to the eyes in such pictures. So why not recrop and make that the key element of the image? Everything else is superfluous. 


Israel’s Defence minister Avigdor Lieberman delivers a statement to the media following his party, Yisrael Beitenu, faction meeting at the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, in Jerusalem November 14, 2018.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

Although Thomas Mukoya’s picture was shot in February 2016 it was only moved this week and therefore qualifies for week in pictures. I can never resist pictures of objects that are seen out of context such as boats on hills or cars in swimming pools so to see a pile of military hardware stacked up and rusting away is a sure pick. Simple in its composition, no distraction of figures or bright colours: your eye just wanders over the tangled mess. 

Piles of rusted soviet-era tanks and military equipment are seen at the ‘tank graveyard’ in Asmara, Eritrea February 21, 2016.   REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A powerful explosion as Hamas TV station is destroyed was captured by Ahmed Zakot in this terrific image. Not only can you see the scale of the blast by looking at the size of the windows lit up by the flames but it’s worth considering the circumstances around taking this picture. Imagine waiting on a rooftop of a building in Gaza in total darkness listening to warplanes and exchange of missiles flying overhead, waiting for an explosion and ensuring that you get timing, framing and exposure all correct. Even though targeted building were warned beforehand you would also be hoping that it’s not your building that is targeted, or a building so close that, even though you are taking all possible precautions, you are peppered with shrapnel. Read on here 



An explosion is seen during an Israeli air strike on Hamas’s television station in Gaza City November 12, 2018.    REUTERS/Ahmed Zakot 


Sunday, 28 October 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa October 26, 2018


Stephen Kalin’s picture, which was actually taken on a smart phone, is a perfect example where you can crop one image different ways that are all equally as powerful as each other. The wider crop giving you the sense of the place, the second tighter crop driving you to the key elements of the picture – the smiling selfie in a crowd. Personally I prefer the tighter crop as I like the sea of faces. Read on here to see the latest.


Saudi Arabia’s Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salmon poses for a selfie picture during the Future Investment Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 23, 2018.   REUTERS/Stephen Kalin

Saudi Arabia’s Crown prince Mohammed bin Salmon poses for a selfie picture during the Future Investment Conference in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, October 23, 2018.   REUTERS/Stephen Kalin


I have selected two pictures from Marko Djurica’s powerful story from Damascus that portrays both sides of the struggle of a city and its people are facing since the fighting around Damascus ended in May. The story only published this week that can be seen here.


A woman exists a taxi during rush hour in central Damascus, Syria, September 16, 2018.   REUTERS/Marko Djurica

A child pushes a cart selling cooked sweet corn in Douma, outside Damascus, Syria September 18, 2018. The town of Douma in eastern Ghouta was retaken by the government from rebels in April after heavy fighting and intense army bombardment and air strikes. .   REUTERS/Marko Djurica


A simple double portrait by Luc Gnago is quite striking and for me raises the question, are these actors in character or not? Its taken over a year for Luc to get his story and pictures published so read on here.
Coulibaly Lassina, 16, and Yao Kouame Alexis Wilfried, 18, pose during the shooting of a sequence of the TV series Invisibles in Abidjan Ivory Coast, September 20, 2017.   REUTERS/Luc Gnago

And finally just because I like them as stand alone images.

Civil Defense members look for survivors after rain storms unleashed flash floods near the Dead sea Jordan October 26, 2018.   REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

Girls squat in the Palestinian Bedouin village of Khan al-Amhar in the occupied West Bank October 22, 2018.    REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman

A general view shows a construction site of the new presidential palace ‘New El Alamein’ in El Alamein, Egypt, October 23, 2018.   REUTERS/Amr Abdallah Dalsh

A man carries fish as he walks past fishing boats in Dakar, Senegal October 26, 2018.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko



Friday, 19 October 2018

A week in Pictures Middle East & Africa October 19, 2018

The chaos of a bomb blast can best be appreciated alongside a scene of ordinary daily life, especially when it’s the same exact spot, a year earlier. Feisal Omar’s powerful before and after pictures take the viewer from the devastation of Somalia’s blasts to a street scene you can quite easily imagine walking or driving along. It makes you think, ‘that could have been me’. See the whole series here. 



A combination picture of a file photo (top) showing Somali Armed Forces evacuating an injured colleague from the scene of an explosion in KM4 street in the Hodan district of Mogadishu, Somalia October 14, 2018 and traffic flowing in the same place along KM4 street almost a year later, October 10, 2018.   REUTERS/Feisal Omar

I include two pictures from Suhaib Salem to demonstrate the importance of employing different styles to give the overall file pace and depth. The first image is ‘in your face’, fraught with passion and action. The whole visual focus sends you immediately to the woman’s screaming face. The eye line and the faces of the people in the background, hands reaching in. and the two inward looking faces of the women left and right keep you looking and looking, no escape from her distress. 


A relative of Palestinian gunman Naji al-Zaneen, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, reacts during his funeral in the northern Gaza strip October 17, 2018.   REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

The second image from Suhaib takes longer to ‘see’ but is no less powerful. It has a strong compositional flow, driven by the eye line of the weeping child on the bottom left and moving like a wave that reaches its crest with the woman in blue and then falls away to the crying child on the right. As you take the time to look from face to face, the sadness grows like a wave gathering its height. The immediate impact of the first picture and the slow build of the second are powerful storytelling combination.   


Relatives of Palestinian gunman Naji al-Zaneen, who was killed in an Israeli airstrike, mourn during his funeral in the northern Gaza strip October 17, 2018.   REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

What is not clear from Newton Nambwaya’s picture is if this coffin is being carried by a villager who has lost a family member or a rescue worker. I suppose that doesn’t really matter as the task at hand is just as precarious. I feel real apprehension for this person carrying the awkward load of the empty coffin across a makeshift bridge. What I am also struggling to understand is why the others are just watching and not helping?


A man crosses the Sume river carrying an empty coffin on his head after a landslide rolled down the slopes of Mt. Elgon through their village of Wanjenwa in Bududa district, Uganda, October 13, 2018.  REUTERS/Newton Nambwaya


If you have read my post before you will know just how much pleasure I get when an editor’s crop changes a good picture into a great picture. A perfect example of this is Mohamed Torokman’s picture from the West Bank cropped by Suhaib Salem. Both pictures were moved to the wire, the wider version giving the action context, but the tight crop, wham! What emotion! This picture leads Reuters global ‘picture of the week’ that you can see here. 



A Palestinian man argues with an Israeli soldier during clashes over an Israeli order to shut down a Palestinian school near Nablus in the occupied west bank October 15, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohamad Torokman


I am very attracted to Omar Sanadiki’s picture from the Syria-Jordan border, not only because of the symmetry of the converging lines of perspective that race to the vanishing point in the distance but also because of the splash of a filled-in shell crater in front of the car. The pothole is a reminder of the fighting that took place in this area only weeks ago. 


A civilian car from Jordan passes into Syria at the Nasib border crossing with Jordan in Deraa, Syria October 15, 21018.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

Corinna Kern’s simple detail picture raises so many questions when you first see it. First, it’s beautifully lit, you can see details of the aging skin and veins on well-manicured hands, the nails perfectly painted a deep red. The jewelry, except for the bracelet on the right hand, looks a little out of place as it’s quite heavy and dark on the delicate hands. Maybe its worn for a memory attached to it?  The watch looks expensive (but I am no expert) and maybe not worn every day as it doesn’t look like a practical timepiece. Some of the questions are answered by the caption, but then the information sets off other trains of thought. Maybe some more answers here.


A Holocaust survivor waits for the beginning of the annual Holocaust survivor’s beauty pageant in Haifa, Israel October 14, 2018.   REUTERS/Corinna Kern