Friday 24 January 2020

A Week in Pictures, Middle East and Africa, January 24, 2020

Baz Ratners’ picture is made up of a wonderful graphic shapes and line all set against striking colour. I love the bleached words that are almost impossible to read. The centre of the image can be digested very quickly, an old railway sign set against an African landscape. But before you move on thinking, okay get it, take a few seconds to search for the boy with the umbrella, if you didn’t already see him. What a delightful visual addition to the image which, on reflection may make you think, okay maybe I don’t get it. If you want to know more read on here for the story published this week that took months to shoot. 
A child holds an umbrella as he stands on the SGR railway tracks near the town of Kiu, south of Nairobi, Kenya, December 16, 2019.    REUTERS/Baz Ratner

Mohamed Azakir’s picture has the feel of a classic picture of a lone Olympic athlete in action, bright colours of red, the wet ground adding shimmer to the light as if in a stadium. But the action - frozen at its peak in front of a crowd - is the only similarity to this momentary illusion. In reality it’s a protester hurling a tear gas canister back at police.   

A demonstrator throws a tear gas canister during a protest against the ruling elite who protesters accuse of steering Lebanon towards economic crisis in Beirut, Lebanon January 18, 2020.   REUTERS/Mohamed Azakir

It’s the neon glow of light blurred with a mix of smoke and driving rain that gives the impression of a city on fire in Aziz Taher’s striking picture. I get an immediate feeling of acute tension as a mass of soldiers head off into the distance. This visual movement is countered by the lone figure set against the yellow arches running in the opposite direction. Looking at this picture I want to know, what happened next? 

Smoke rises as Lebanese army soldiers walk towards a protest against the newly formed government in Beirut, Lebanon January 22, 2020.   REUTERS/Aziz Taher

Powerful, brutal, frightening and desperate are all words that can describe Khalid al-Mousily’s picture from the clashes in Iraq. It’s not often I will post a picture of a bloodied corpse but it’s the action around the body, rather than the body itself that creates the power of the image. I feel this emanates strength through what you can’t quite see. It takes a while to see the bloodied face even though the composition of the image directs you it. The men on the wall left and right looking down at the action, the figures below the wall forming a dark pyramid, at the centre of which is the dead man’s face - which you are led to from the line formed by the foot and leg. And once you have seen it and want to look away, the man at bottom right who holds a mobile phone pushes your eye back to the ugly centre. Read on here for Khalid’s back story.   

Iraqi demonstrators carry a man killed during ongoing anti-government protests in Baghdad, Iraq January 21, 2020.   REUTERS/Khalid al-Mousily

Raneen Sawafta has used a clever reflection to turn an ordinary scene in flat low light to create an image with a spiritual and musical feel. Even the rhythm of the dark fence posts adds to the sense of dance as the pilgrims, holding hands, move from left to right.

Pilgrims are reflected in a car window as they make their way towards the Jordan River to participate in a baptism ceremony, near Jericho in the Israeli-occupied west bank January 18, 2020.   REUTERS/Raneen Sawafta 

Rice price inflation in Nigeria doesn’t really set the pulse racing in terms of potential for news images but this important story needed to be illustrated. Afolabi Sotunde has shot the story very thoughtfully and I am a great fan of a detail picture when cleverly used to illustrate a complex story. A sliver of light pointing down to the small grains of rice does the job perfectly. If rice prices in Nigeria does get your pulse racing read on here, the pictures are worth the time. 
Paddy rice grains are seen in a machine before processing at the Wurukum Rice Mill in Makuerdi, Nigeria December 2, 2019.   REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

An interesting debate to be had about giving offense and reporting fairly what is seen. After a call for a million people to join an anti-U.S. protest in Iraq, many protesters have taken the time to make anti-U.S. banners, posters and even mock gallows, giving Alaa al-Marjani this slight ethical conundrum. What is needed for fair presentation is a variety of images in the file and to photograph what is seen, being careful not to isolate images that are not representative of what is really going on.

Supporters of Iraqi Shi’ite cleric Moqtada al-Sadr carry placards depicting U.S President Donald Trump at a protest against the U.S presence in Iraq in Baghdad, Iraq January 24, 2020.  REUTERS/Alaa al-Marjani

The commemorations to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of concentration camps at the World Holocaust Forum produced a tsunami of images as 40 heads of state descended on Jerusalem, some of who also visited the Palestinian Territories. At the end of day it was reported that details of the U.S. peace plan for the Middle East would be announced. So Ammar Awad’s image of the arrival of Vice President Mike Pence quickly changed from being just another arrival image to one of the day’s key images as the news focus shifted.

U.S Vice President Mike Pence and his wife Karen disembark from a plane upon their arrival at Ben Gurion international Airport to attend the World Holocaust Forum at the Yad Vashem memorial centre, near Tel Aviv, Israel January 23, 2020.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

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