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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


Friday, 12 October 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa October 12, 2018


Ibraheem Abu Mustafa has crouched down low to create a powerful combination of flames, black smoke and figures in his picture from Gaza. It’s worth looking deeper into the image beyond its immediate impact. At first you notice the two protesters holding their catapults at full tension, aimed at different targets. Beyond them, and to the far distance, dozens of others figures start to emerge from the smoke; some running, some pointing and others just watching, but all risking their lives to protest. Read the latest details here.

Palestinians hurl stones at Israeli troops during a protest calling for lifting the Israeli blockade on Gaza demanding the right to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border fence in the southern Gaza strip October 12, 2018.    REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

There are ways to photograph a building and there are great ways to photograph a building and it’s not often I get excited about a picture with no people in it, but Muhammad Hamed’s picture of the Monastery in Petra is just breath-taking. Like a scene from the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, the vision created by the light is spectacular and if this picture doesn’t want to make you visit Petra, nothing will. By way of explanation the September date was when this picture was shot, but it was moved on the wire this week.   


A general view of the Monastery at night in the ancient city of Petra, south of Amman, Jordan September 27, 2018.   REUTERS/Muhammad Hamed

There’s no mistaking the sadness in Ronen Zvulen’s powerful detail picture that has been carefully cropped by picture editor Nir Elias as a hand tenderly reaches out to touch the Star of David, which forms part of the shroud covering the body of Kim Yehezkel. There is no respite from the cold tones of the black cloth and the stonework, even the bare and tattooed arm looks cold to the touch.

A woman touches the cover for the body of Kim Yehezkel during her funeral at the cemetery in Rosh Ha’ain near Tel Aviv, Israel October 7, 2018.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

It takes more than a little while to work out what is going on in Zohra Bensemra’s picture. As you flick from white highlights to black shadows eventually your eye catches hold of the small white piece of paper suspended in the black. Then you spot the woman on the left sitting behind a lamp with her eyes sharply focused on the paper. You then get the sense of it as a ballot paper. The picture snaps into meaning – what a tough task, counting votes in a dark room, lit only with small lamps


Election workers take part in vote counting during the presidential election in Yaounde, Cameroon October 7, 2018.   REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra 


A brave decision by Amr Abdallah Dalsh to use a very wide lens to shoot Melania Trump arriving at the Great Pyramids has paid off. The stark empty landscape is populated with security as far as the eye can see. The slight V of the clouds dipping down to point to the U.S. first lady as she strides through this open space. But what I would give for another inch beneath the security guard’s foot on the right-hand side, the foot is just cut off a tiny bit, a pet hate of mine. 


U.S first lady Melania Trump walks with Egypt’s Antiquities Minister Khaled El-Enany as security personnel stand guard during her visit to the Great Pyramids in Cairo, Egypt, October 6, 2018.   REUTERS/Amt Abdallah Dalsh 


Carefully framed by silhouetted figures in the foreground we are dawn deeper and deeper into Naif Rahma’s picture by the rhythm of the school children queuing at the start of the new term. I am greatly saddened by this picture as I can’t get the notion out of my head that the silhouettes in the foreground represent the children who were killed in the air strike. This picture haunts me. Read on here 


Students perform morning exercises and drill at their school which lost pupils in an August 2018 Saudi-led air strike on a school bus in Saada province, Yemen October 6, 2018.   REUTERS/Naif Rahma


When I first saw Mohamed Abd El Ghany’s picture I am sure I heard an audible ‘click’ of the player’s neck as he stretches! The warm tones of the colours, the deep shadows of the blacks and the dash of red all strongly evoke the high temperatures this athlete is competing in. His closed eyes and this sense of warmth combine to give me a sense that this refugee has relaxed, he feels he is through the worst of his difficult life; let’s hope so. It’s a story of hope, so read on here.  It’s a story of hope that took a while to shoot so read on here

 A Sudanese refugee stretches prior to a basketball game in Cairo, Egypt September 24, 2018.  REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

Two pictures by Ammar Awad, which were shot for the same story, are poles apart in terms of mood, and yet I can’t help but link them as they are very similar in shape and design. Both have a strong sense of a right to left sweep of movement, both have three main female figures and the dashes of colour that catch your eye are the pinks and pale purples. I fear that seen together the pictures may convey a sense of youthful hopes that are later dashed. You decide, read on here


Palestinian school children take part in a lesson at a school run by UNRWA (United Nations Relief and works Agency) in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad


Palestinian women walk on a street in the Shuafat refugee camp in East Jerusalem October 10, 2018. REUTERS/Ammar Awad





Saturday, 6 October 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa October 5, 2018


Eat your heart our New Orleans! This is Malawi and we’re going to party while we wait for Melania Trump. So says this wonderfully affectionate picture by Carlo Allegri, who is travelling in the region with FLOTUS. Take the time to look at their faces, the first thing you’ll see is that gap in the teeth. Then enjoy the style, suits, shoes, canes and hats, feel the warmth and hear that rhythm. This picture makes me feel good, and I hope it does you too. See more pictures of Melania in Africa here.



Malawians hold flags and dance as the U.S first lady arrives in Lilongwe, Malawi, October 4, 2018.    REUTERS/Carlo Allegri

Taking pictures of food to make it look appetising is never easy. Taking pictures of food being prepared by displaced people cooking over a fire is harder still. Zohra Bensemra’s picture is a complex, detailed image that evokes different emotions at the same time and I am not sure why. The grey goo being pounded in the wooden bowl does not look so tasty but I feel a great sense of anticipation that what is going to be cooked is going to taste nice. What gives me this feeling I am not sure. Is it the warm tones of the earth and woman’s legs countered by the cold, metallic but much treasured pots? Or is it the child’s green dish waiting to be filled? Or maybe just the calm generated by the soft light and the sense that there is now time to cook after finding a safe place after fleeing from violence? Read on here


Honre Waba, 40, who has fled the northwestern village of Njinikom because of violence cooks in the courtyard of the house where she is staying in Yaounde, Cameroon, October 3, 2018.   REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra



I’ve looked at many images of demonstrations but Mohammed Salem’s picture took me a little by surprise. I didn’t at first understand why these Jihadists were completely wrapped in white cloth, their arms trapped. We’d had other images from the same military show of force, masked men armed to the teeth, missile-shaped metal constructions on back of trucks, and alert eyes peering from black masks that all made obvious sense to me. I now understand that these worn white cloths are death shrouds, the message being ‘we are prepared to die’. 


Palestinian Islamic Jihad militants participate in a military show in Gaza City October 4, 2018.   Mohammed Salem


It takes a little while to make sense of Faisal Al-Nasser’s picture. It’s the use of only a tiny fragment of this almost totally abstract picture, the simple line of eyes, that make this picture stand out. Once you focus on the eyes the intensity of their look is quite unmistakable. Maybe also I like this because the reds, purples and blacks put me in mind of the shifting edges and colours of a Rothko painting. 


Saudi job seekers talk to a company representative at Glowork Woman’s Career Fair in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia October 2, 2018.   REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser


One thing is for sure, everyone who looks at Khaled Abdullah’s picture will hear the piercing scream of the baby as the needle, that is just about dead centre in the picture, is pushed into the tiny arm. A visual spiral of almost solid blocks of blue, black and orange colours bear down, as do three enormous hands, holding the child’s arm all forcing you to look at that needle and face screwed up in pain. The only respite from the agony of the pain of cholera and of the needle is the delicate touch of mum’s thumb trying to soothe away the pain. 


A boy cries as he is being treated at a cholera treatment centre at the al-Sabeen hospital in Sanaa, Yemen October 3, 2018.   REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah


A dash of colour of a red umbrella with child-like teddy bears printed on it breaks up the greys, greens, browns and rust of the war scorched landscape of Zohra’s Bensemra’s picture. I feel nervous as my eye moves around this picture; I dare not look too long at the bright red as I feel danger lurks nearby and I should be alert, not distracted so I continue to look around. It’s only then I notice the soldier, half hidden in the burned street scene, coming towards me. 


A Cameroonian elite Rapid Intervention Battalion (RIR) member walks past a burnt our car while patrolling in the city of Buea in the Anglophone southwest region, Cameroon, October 4, 2018.   REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Siphiwe Sibeko’s image is a picture of two opposing halves, bottom left you get the timeless quiet of a man asleep, in the cool of blues, only his red cap possibly disturbing the visual slumber. Top right, it appears that the train, warmed by dark reds and browns, although stationary, is rushing forward to the tick of light that is top left. The solid grey of the platform separates these two worlds. When this man wakes up he going to have a stiff neck, but he looks comfortable. If you want to see more on this gruelling sleeper train journey across Zimbabwe, click here I promise you it’s well worth it. 


A train mechanic sleeps at a platform after an overnight train journey from Harare, in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe August 6, 2018.    REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

The clever use of three layers by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa makes for an image that you have to look at again and again, each time getting a little more from it. A first you see the face of the man shouting and the flames; then you notice the second pair of arms coming from behind him. You try to work out where the other man is standing but you can’t as it’s confused. Your eyes then drift into the dense black smoke and suddenly, woah! you spot the profile of the man standing right next to you. He’s just coldly staring. 


A Palestinian reacts during a protest calling for the lifting of the Israeli blockade on Gaza demanding the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border fence in the southern Gaza strip October 5, 2018.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa