Friday, 27 April 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East & Africa April 27, 2018

First, words of congratulation to our colleagues in Asia for their Pulitzer Prize last week. Reuters won two prizes in Feature Photography and International Reporting. Adnan Abidi, Mohammad Ponir Hossain, Hannah Mckay, Cathal McNaughton, Damir Sagolj, Danish Siddiqui and Soe Zeya Tun won the prize for their work on the coverage of the Rohingya people fleeing to Bangladesh. The pictures can be seen here.

An exhausted Rohingya refugee woman touches the shore after crossing the Bangladesh-Myanmar border by boat through the Bay of Bengal, in Shah Porir Dwip, Bangladesh, September 11, 2017. REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui

A very simple picture by Essam Al-Sudani tells the story of violent amputation in Iraq. I am overwhelmed by the feeling of sadness, maybe created by the beautiful light that falls on the plastic hands and arms. I can’t help thinking that every prosthetic limb tells a tale of a ruined life. Strangely, the big clunky watch, which slightly detracts from the overall shape of the picture (imagine this picture without the watch) gives just a glimmer of hope through its ordinariness. Full story here.

Prosthetic limbs are seen at the Artificial Limb Centre in Basra, February 28, 2018.  REUTERS/Essam Al-Sudani 

I hope that Ali Hashisho’s picture warms you the way it does me. It would be easy to overlook this at first glance as the light is little harsh, there are the rear lights of a bus in the bottom right of the frame and really it needs just a little crop to take the bus out and some of the foreground – maybe? What I like about this picture is the timing of the centrally placed cyclist and the man walking in the opposite direction, his legs at full stride. I have done a crop for you to judge for yourself. What I also like is that ordinary commerce is coming back to Douma. A little explanation about the phrase ‘during a media tour’ in the caption, Ali was taken to Douma under the control of the government and would have been limited as to what he could and could not photograph.

A cyclist is seen through the entrance of a shoe shop during a media tour in Douma near Damascus, Syria, April 23, 2018.    REUTERS/Ali Hashisho 

Your eye just crashes into the centre of Suhaib Salem’s emotional picture of a boy weeping at a funeral. The body language of the covered women, the eye line of the woman on the right, the shadows on the wall, the hand coming in from the bottom right and the fingers cupped around the boys face all lead me to his closed eyes. To me the boy’s grief looks uncontrollable, I get the sense he just doesn’t want to open his eyes because if he does he will know the death of his family member is real and inescapable.  

Relatives of deaf Palestinian Tahreer Wahba who died of the wounds he sustained during a protest at the Israeli-Gaza border, mourn during his funeral in Khan Younis in the southern Gaza strip April 23, 2018.    REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Looking at Amr Abdallah Dalsh picture I can’t help thinking of Dick Whittington and his Cat and the promise that London’s streets are paved with gold. Turned out for young Whittington that the streets were in fact dirty and poverty stricken. Looks to me that at least on the face of it old Cairo offers more promise than 14th century London. What wonderful colours and what a great X composition in Amr’s picture. 

People sit at traditional cafes in Old Islamic Cairo, Egypt, April 21, 2018.   REUTERS/Amr Abdullah Dalsh

Steve is a hard worker and we know that because Nieri Mwangi picture shows him head down, arm muscles tensed pulling containers of water in the rain, through the busy streets, his cart clearly labelled STEVE.  You would not believe it looking at the rain and wet streets in this picture but many parts of Nairobi only have tapped water two days a week. Steve is working hard to make up the shortfall. I love the power and energy in this picture of daily life and can’t resist the fact that his Wellington boot is just an inch off the ground.

A man pulls a hard cart loaded with Jerry cans of water through the traffic in downtown Nairobi, Kenya April 19, 2018.    REUTERS/Nieri Mwangi 

A striking and thoughtful picture by Amir Cohen to illustrate the aftermath of a flash flood. A combination of quick thinking, a lucky break with lightning strikes and a well thought-out angle on the curve of the road for this time exposure work together to create this eye-catching moment. At first I did not like the chevrons and experimented with a crop but I am now of two minds. You choose.

Cars are driven as lightning strikes near a site where a group of Israeli youths were swept away by a flash flood near the Zafit river bed, south of the Dead Sea, Israel, April 26, 2018.    REUTERS/Amir Cohen 

The slightly bizarre always catches my eye so Youssef Boudlal’s picture easily finds a place in this week’s selection. I love the sense of the march of the mannequins from left to right in this strongly composed image made up of triangle after triangle, from the shapes of the building to canopies in the background and the open space on the bottom left. What I love too is the real figure who, to me, seems to be hiding in the shadows, waiting the march of the ‘undead’ headless mannequins to pass by.   

Mannequins displaying women’s clothing for sale are lined up in the street at the market in Ouled Moussa district on the outskirts of Rabat, Morocco, April 24, 2018.   REUTERS/Youssef Boudlal 

And if you think you have had a hard day at work today have a look at this powerful picture from Ibraheem Abu Mustafa, it should make you feel better.

A photojournalist runs during clashes between Israeli troops and Palestinians at a protest where Palestinians demand their right to return to their homeland at the Gaza-Israeli border in the southern Gaza strip April 27, 2018.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Friday, 13 April 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East and Africa April 13, 2018

A provocative image by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa works well in the visual simplicity of its composition, leaving no-one in any doubt as to these protesters’ feelings about U.S President Trump. In my mind this crop has been well paced: too tight and you lose the sense of the weight of many people, too loose and you lose the details of the tears and folds in the face. 

Palestinian demonstrators step on a representation of an Israeli flag and a poster of U.S President Donald Trump during a protest demanding the right to return to their homeland, at the Israel-Gaza border in the southern Gaza strip April 13, 2018.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

At first look Ammar Awad’s picture is that of an idyllic scene, a perfect blue-green sea  stretches to clear blue sky, white crested waves gently roll onto a golden beach, a single person enjoys the warmth of the sunshine on what appears to be an exclusive beach. It’s only when you read the caption that the scream of a siren marking the death of millions in the Holocaust can be heard. The picture, to my mind, changes from that of peace to mourning, underlying the power of pictures with words and words with pictures. A slide show of images from the two-minute remembrance can be seen here.

A beachgoer stands still as a two-minute siren marking the annual Israeli Holocaust Remembrance Day is heard in Tel Aviv, Israel, April 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad 

The message is very simple in Siphiwe Sibeko’s striking portrait ‘Rest in Peace mother Winnie’. In complete contrast to the image above, no caption is needed as everything is there: the strength and beauty of the face framed with the nation’s colours, the eyes looking directly at you and the bold message on her face. The nation mourns for Winnie Mandela, considered by many to be ‘the mother’ of modern South Africa. More pictures from the memorial service can be seen here.

An ANC supporter arrives at a memorial service for Winnie Madikizela-Mandela at Orlando Stadium in Johannesburg’s Soweto Township, South Africa, April 11, 2018.  REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

A sea of hands and faces crush closer to try to touch a symbolic casket in Khaild Al-Mousily’s picture. I get a strange sense of heat and energy as the casket seems to hover above the pilgrims in a surreal manner, like an out of scale and out of context object that has been cut out and dropped into a picture of hundreds of people. All lines of the hands and arms focus our attention on the centre, visually emphasizing the importance of the act of mourning. 

Shi’ite pilgrims carry a symbolic casket outside Imam Moussa al-Kadhim’s shrine to mark his death anniversary in Baghdad, Iraq, April 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Khalid Al-Mousily

A very gentle image by Reem Baeshen that has just been published on the Wider Image, the story, about a woman photographed by a woman, took a long time to pull together and can be seen in full here. What to me is special about this particular picture from the story is that I get the abstract sense that the woman on the right is freeing birds that seem to fly away from her and then circle back, as if encouraging the woman on the left to join her. I think the light bleeding in from the left to the right of the picture adds to the circular ‘compositional flow’ of the picture. Or maybe it’s just the peaceful feel that draws me in and sets off my imagination, I can’t quite decide. The whole story here

Amirah al-Turkistani, a graphic design lecturer at Jeddah University takes a selfie in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, January 15, 2018.    REUTERS/Reem Baeshen 

First, all I see in Suhaib Salem’s picture is the tranquil face of dead Yasser Murtaja, the touch of his colleague’s hand on his body and then the mourner’s face, wet with tears and contorted with grief. As I’ve said before I always look at the faces of the dead at these funerals; I want to remember. I then notice the word PRESS on the flak vest laid out on his body and it’s only then I made the connection to the second image below. I can’t shake the look in Yassers’s eye in Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s picture as he stares straight at me out of his shadow, dying after being shot while taking pictures at the clashes, wearing his PRESS vest. It seems that I now look at the faces of dying as well as the dead.  

Colleagues of Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja, 31, who died of his wounds during clashes at the Israeli-Gaza border, carry his body during his funeral in Gaza City April 7, 2018.  REUTERS/Suhaib Salem

Mortally wounded Palestinian journalist Yasser Murtaja is evacuated during clashes with Israeli troops at the Israeli-Gaza border, in the southern Gaza Strip Aril 6, 2018. REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

In a perfect world I would like to see the figure in Afolabi Sotunde’s just slightly to the right so the man’s shoulder is just clear of the bridge in the background. But our world is far from perfect so I am very happy with the strong zigzag composition that zooms you to the furthest horizon on the top right of the picture, and the slow movement of the workers with buckets of sand on their heads that brings you back to the foreground, bottom left. The standing figure in the centre is the fulcrum around which the whole picture balances.   

Workers carry sand on the banks of the Benue River in Benue, Nigeria, April 11, 2018.   REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

Feisal Omar’s picture is a brutal image of death, but I find myself asking why it’s not as disturbing as many of the images I look at. I am not shocked, saddened or disturbed, despite the fact that half the image is of a dead body – very ugly. This picture doesn’t read like that - why? Is it the fact that there are no pools of blood and gore? Or maybe because the face of the dead man cannot be seen so he has become anonymous. This is a dead attacker in military uniform, not a face that can be identified as a son, father or brother. Also, could it be because other people in the picture are casually sweeping up the debris in the street as if sweeping the steps to a function hall, seemingly oblivious of the corpse?  

Civilians walk past the dead body of a suspected unidentified attacker at the scene of an explosion at a security checkpoint in the Hodan district of Mogadishu, Somalia April 6, 2018.    REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Adding this for no other reason than Mohammed Salem's picture is just a great picture of a captured moment.

A girl hurls a stone during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest where Palestinians demand the right to return to their homeland at the Israeli-Gaza border, east of Gaza City April 13, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohammed Salem

Friday, 6 April 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East & Africa April 6, 2018

The clashes on the Gaza border have generated many striking pictures this week. It was hard to isolate just one so I have chosen three. Suhaib Salem’s picture is so sad that it’s almost painful to look at. The woman appears to be holding on to the doorway as if it’s the life of Hamdan himself, refusing to believe he is dead. The mourners behind her are pulling her gently and firmly back to the truth and the realisation that he is dead and nothing will bring him back, no matter how hard she clings to the doorway. More pictures can be seen here .

Mourners hold back a relative of Palestinian Hamdan Abu Amshah, who was killed along Israel’s border with Gaza, during his funeral in Beit Hanoun own, in the northern Gaza strip March 31, 2018,   REUTERS/Suhaib Salem 

There is no mistaking the anger in Ibraheem Abu Mustafa’s picture as Palestinians confront Israeli troops in what looks like a scene from a battle from a bygone age. The landscape, like the protesters’ clothes, is blackened by smoke from burning tyres. The burning grass of the scorched earth draws your eye to the fire, and to the raw fury in the face of the protester.

A Palestinian holds burning material during clashes with Israeli troops at the Israeli-Gaza border, in the southern Gaza strip April 3, 2018.    REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

I can’t help thinking of images showing lines of troops facing each other on an agreed field of battle in an ancient conflict when I look at Amir Cohen’s picture. The faint puff of smoke from tear gas looks like cannon fire, with the tents of the combatants ranged in background. This battle was no less fatal for some. 

Israeli soldiers shoot tear gas from the Israeli side of the Israeli-Gaza border as Palestinians protest on the Gaza side of the border, March 30, 2018.   REUTERS/Amir Cohen

It's worth an update with Mohammed Salem's picture that is now featuring in many publications and hear from Mohammed himself how this image was taken 

"I was 300 metres away from the fence. Those youths were calling to other young men, urging them to come forward in order to cross the border fence", Salem recalls. "The whole place was covered in heavy smoke rising up from the many tires that had been burnt. They cam close to each other, in excitement. In the background Israeli fired heavy tear gas, and tried to extinguish the burning tires. I knew it was a good picture, and a strong one, the moment I saw the scene." Read on here.

Palestinian protestors shout during clashes with Israeli troops at a protest demanding the right to return to their homeland, at the Israeli-Gaza border esst of Gaza City, April 6, 2018.  REUTERS/Mohammed Salem 

Sometimes a simple, posed illustrative picture serves well not only to tell a story but to give a sense of the scale of the object being photographed. This is true in Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen’s picture of a diorama from the conflict in Iraq. The exquisite details of the model are lifted by being set against a clean background, with the scale of the model determined by the arm and hand of the model maker. This affectionate story of a soldier recovering from trauma can be seen here.

Mini-diorama, showing model Iraqi vehicle, is held by model maker and creator Radwan Nasser Abdel Amir, a former Iraqi soldier aged 28, in Kerbala, Iraq April 1, 2018.    REUTERS/ Abdullah Dhiaa Al-Deen

A difficult crop choice for Siphiwe Sibeko for his cricket picture. Does he go for the wider shot that shows Elgar at full stretch catching the ball, although his feet are cropped out and the ball is a little lost. Or does he crop in tight so you lose the flow of the body but you quickly get to see the hands perfectly poised to catch the ball?

South Africa’s Dean Elgar catches the ball off Australia’s Tim Paine during the Fourth Test at the Wanderers Stadium, Johannesburg, South Africa April 1, 2018.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

At funerals and memorial services you often hear the phrase “celebration of life” used to describe what is often a sad occasion. Siphiwe Sibeko’s picture is just that, a celebration of Winnie Mandela life. I so want to hear what these women are singing. Their faces emanate beauty, strength and joy, their hands and arms moving to the rhythm of their song. I come away feeling hope after looking at this picture, so thank you, Siphiwe. More pictures here

Members of the African National Congress Women’s League (ANCWL) sing outside the home of late Winnie Mandela in Soweto, South Africa, April 3, 2018.    REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

I could not resist adding Ulli Michel’s wonderful iconic image of the release of Nelson Mandela as maybe this is what the singers are actually celebrating, the hard-fought freedom from apartheid. 

Nelson Mandela, accompanied by his wife Winnie, walks out of the Victor Verster prison, near Cape Town, after spending 27 years in apartheid jails, February 11, 1990.   REUTERS/Ulli Michel 

A little bit of luck for Ammar Awad changes a nicely framed picture into something a little bit special. A flash of light from a phone camera as a worshipper gazes upwards, arms open in prayer, adds an unexpected element that could never be anticipated, especially when shooting pictures in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre. 

Worshippers pray in the Church of the Holy Sepulchre in Jerusalem’s Old City during the traditional Washing of the Feet ceremony April 5, 2018.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

The conflict on the Israeli-border continues to throw up eye-catching images and none more so than this bizarre picture by Ibraheem Abu Mustafa. I can’t imagine why you’d dress up as Tweety Pie, ask your friend to dress up as a clown and then head off to clashes. What troubles me more is why you would not wear shoes. If the motivation was to draw attention to the border clashes it certainly does so, with a heady visual mix of flames, smoke, scorched earth, a masked protester beating a make-shift drum, and two people in cartoon character costumes. I am not sure what message this conveys and I suppose it’s this chaos that attracts me to this wonderfully strange picture.

Palestinians wearing costumes are seen at the clashes on the Israeli-Gaza border in the Southern Gaza strip April 5, 2018.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

Although Mike Hutching’s picture was shot in January, it was only moved to the wire this week to illustrate the water crisis in Cape Town. I must admit I’d always rather have person in a picture but there is no escaping the brutal beauty of this image. The low sun casts warm yellow light on the stones in the foreground as well as deep shadows that emphasise the cracks in the dried out reservoir bed. Your eyes race along these cracks to the blue horizon, not a drop of water in sight. A terrifying picture of pending environmental disaster. 

Caked, dried mud is seen at Theewatersloof dam near Cape Town, South Africa, January 21, 2018.   REUTERS/Mike Hutchings