Monday 31 December 2018

A Year in Pictures Middle East and Africa 2018

A simple backdrop for a portrait series by Afolabi Sotunde makes for a gentle and affectionate visual journey. It is beautiful in its rough and ready feel, and I get a real sense of the personalities of the people we meet, who barter goods in their refugee camp. I don’t think we’d get this feeling of closeness if the backdrop and lighting were uniform. Maybe you disagree, but look here on the Wider Image for the whole story and make up your own mind.

Aisha Umaru Gaye holds up a pumpkin at the Bakasi IDP, Maiduguri, Nigeria November 22, 2017.   REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

There is no ignoring the powerful pictures from Ghouta, Syria, by Bassam Khabeih. I have included two images; one of a man who at first appears to be helping to move rubble, before you realise that it’s actually him who is being helped because he is trapped waist-deep in debris. Bassam followed up on his story that you can see here. The second image is just so sad it hardly needs any explanation. Set against a backdrop of impersonal blue-and-brown metal, the light falls on the weeping woman, your eyes drawn to her mouth pressed against the blue cloth that covers her dead child. See the whole story here

A man is trapped under debris at a site after an airstrike in the Saqba area, in the eastern Damascus suburb of Ghouta Syria, January 9, 2018.   REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Heba Amouri, mourns as she holds the body of her two-year-old son, Emir al-Bash at a medical centre in the besieged town of Douma, eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria January 8, 2018.    REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

Love heart illustrations, hands and guns are always going to be an eye catcher. In a perfect world I would have liked Khaled Abdullah to have cropped out the highlight on the left but then we’d lose the centrally positioned reds of the hearts or change the shape of the picture to a square. But this is all compositional nit-picking about a strong picture that I like a lot.

Armed women attend a rally to show support for the Houthi movement in Sanaa, Yemen, January 13, 2018.   REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

I have selected one of many rooftop pictures shot by Corinna Kern in Tel Aviv as I feel it’s stuffed full to bursting with shape, light and things. The tower blocks in the background ‘lean’ into the picture from the top looking down, while the shadows of the foreground press up, squeezing us to the middle of the image. Once we finally settle on to the roof top we are rewarded with a host of Objets d’Art to keep us busy looking and looking some more. The full series can be seen here on the Wider Image. 

Ana Ashury, a mixed media artist, stores away her artwork on her rooftop in Ramat gan, a suburb of Tel Aviv, November 19, 2017. While she works as a video artist most of the time, Ana has recently started to use her rooftop space as a workshop for collage creation.   REUTERS/Corinna Kern

Hani Amara’s picture, to me, is one of the desperate isolation that can only really be found on a dinghy crowded with refugees in the Mediterranean. We can just make out enough detail to see many are risking their lives to flee to Europe, but we are not given enough to count them, which adds to the sense that there are just too many of them. I fear for these people but am glad the sea is calm and the Libyan Coast Guard picked them up. 

Migrants are seen on a rubber dinghy as they are rescued by Libyan Coast Guard in the Mediterranean off the coast of Libya, January 15, 2018.   REUTERS/Hani Amara

To me, the strength of Ismail Zitouny’s almost abstract combination of texture, tone, wood, metal and cloth is that it takes quite a while to understand that you are looking at the wrapped figure of a woman. Her invisibility mirrors the plight of the displaced people who cannot return to their homes in the ghost town of Tawergha. More pictures here.

A Libyan woman displaced from the town of Tawergha stands at a camp in Tripoli, Libya, February 5, 2018.   REUTERS/Ismail Zitouny

The ghost-like figures that appear from the smoke and dust of the aftermath of an air strike in Bassam Khablieh’s picture haunt me far more than his other images of blood-stained pavements taken at the same time. Why? The people seem to be drowning in the streets as they run from the devastation, putting me in mind of the first line of Stevie Smith’s poem ‘Not Waving but Drowning’: ‘Nobody heard him, the dead man.’

Civil defence members and civilians are seen running after an air raid in the besieged town of Douma in eastern Ghouta in Damascus, Syria, February 6, 2018.   REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

A last minute update to the week's selection from Middle East and Africa of Luc Gnago's wonderfully composed picture using classic thirds and complementary colours of orange and blue. The picture of the tree against the blue sky on the orange earth would have been nice enough but three girls walking from left to right, all equally spaced in line, one, two, three or A, B C to fill the space perfectly make this image just a little bit special.

Girls carry water on their bicycles at a dispensary in Nedago village near Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso, February 16, 2018.   REUTERS/Luc Gnago

After spending weeks shooting the looming drought in Cape Town, Mike Hutching’s in-depth story has finally been published. It was hard to choose a single image, but for me a lone figure, carrying a water container and squeezed between the shadows seems to sum up the situation, or maybe a lucky escape. Day Zero, when the taps in Cape Town will be turned off, has been put back from mid April to mid July. Maybe if the rains come and the reservoirs are replenished,   the city will have a lucky escape too. I fear that in the long term there is no escape from water shortage. His whole picture story, with some amazing drone footage, can be seen here.  

  A man carries a bucket used to collect water from a small roadside spring in Cape Town, South Africa, February 4, 2018. REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Mohamed Abd El Ghany captures a protesting soccer fan in mid-stride, holding a flare aloft and looking like an Olympic torch bearer. What I really like about this picture is the clean design. Yes, it could be said that he got lucky: there are no other people to complicate the scene, the background figures seem to run along with him, and the curl of smoke is perfect. What is important is that the figure is at full stretch with his arms raised. You need to be both lucky and good to capture this.

An Egypt's Al Ahly fan shouts slogans against the Interior Ministry whilst running with a flare during the Al Ahly v Gabon's CF Mounana CAF African Champions League match in Cairo, Egypt, March 6, 2018.  REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany 

I can’t help feeling a little sad at the size of the task facing the soldier clearing mines in Aziz El Yaakoubi’s picture. The flat, featureless landscape seems to stretch to infinity. This space, and the danger of the task, have been cleverly accentuated by the heavy crop of the second soldier, who wisely seems to be keeping well away 

A member of the UAE armed forces secures an area while searching for landmines in Al-Mokha, Yemen March 6, 2018. Picture taken March 6, 2018. Reuters/ Aziz El Yaakoubi 

I have included two pictures from Omar Sanadiki as they have thrown up a conflict in my mind. Is the picture of the sleeping baby in the suitcase too ‘cute’ to portray what is going on in Syria? Or does it humanise a situation that many have become visually numb to, to the extent that you can just gloss over pictures like the one of people fleeing seen below. The latest pictures from Ghouta here.

A child sleeps in a bag in the village of Beit Sawa, eastern Ghouta, Syria March 15, 2018.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki 

People walk with their belongings as they flee the rebel-held town of Hammouriyeh, in the village of Beit Sawa, eastern Ghouta, Syria March 15, 2018.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

I think the pelican is a strange-looking bird. So take a pelican from its natural habitat at the water’s edge to a poor housing area. Add to the scene a boy playing with it and another playing a flute-like instrument only just encroaching into the left hand side of the frame. Throw in splashes of primary colour, red yellow and blue. And, as a final element add photographer Zohra Bensemra and her magical ability to capture moments and you end up with a beautiful and intriguing picture.

A boy plays with pelican in Yoff commune in Dakar, Senegal, March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Sheer joy sums up what I feel about Olivia Acland’s picture. What creates this joy? To me it’s the man’s face is alight with expression and highlighted detail; perfect white teeth and catch light in his eyes, cheeks and chin line with a background of a sea of hands going up in celebration. 

People gesture as they show their support for the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) Party outside the party’s headquarters in Freetown, Sierra Leone, March 13, 2018.  REUTERS/Olivia Acland

I like the explosive moment of celebration captured by Khalil Ashawi as victorious fighters enter the centre of Afrin, Syria. It is the collection of small, well-defined details that makes this picture. You can almost hear the gunfire crack into the air, a rifle silhouetted against a bright sky, and the muzzle flash of a heavy calibre gun highlighted against the mid tones of the downtown buildings. The curve of the road and direction of the vehicles finally lead to you to notice the small central figure,  arms raised, his tiny V-shaped shadow cast on the ground. Maybe a crop better serves this image, what do you think?

Turkish backed Free Syrian Army members celebrate in Afrin, Syria, March 18, 2018.   REUTERS/Khalil Ashawi

There is no avoiding the overwhelming feeling of sadness in Khaled Abdullah’s picture of a small child in an IDP camp. The simple, strong shape of the tyre and the bright red of his shirt isolate the boy against the litter-filled, grey background. He seems to be surrounded by emptiness. The detail of his bare feet hint at the abject poverty he must endure as the conflict in Yemen enters its fourth year. Read on here. 

A boy leans on a tyre at a camp for internally displaced people (IDP) near Sanaa, Yemen March 18, 2018.    REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

The clashes on the Gaza border have generated many striking pictures this week. It was hard to isolate just one. 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 

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 

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 

There is only one way to describe Ari Jala’s picture from Mosul: chilling. The eye is immediately drawn into the simple zigzag triangular design of the image, punctuated by the repeated image of an execution painted on the wall, again, and again, and again. It’s only then that you notice the neatly turned-out schoolgirl heading to her lessons. Read the story here

An Iraqi student walks past a school wall covered with drawings showing how Islamic State executed prisoners in Mosul, Iraq April 30, 2018.   REUTERS/Ari Jalal

I can’t help smiling at the reaction of the fans in this picture by Zoubeir Souissi as the riot police officer charges at them. The man on left seems to be saying, “not me, honest,”  the man in the middle is running away -  “I’m out of here” - while the man on the right is just sitting there – “innocent me”. Let’s hope none of them got whacked by the policeman’s baton. 

Riot Police chase Club African fans during clashes at the Tunisian Cup final against Etoile Sportive du Sahel in Tunis, Tunisia, May 13, 2018.   REUTERS/Zoubeir Souissi

The curved compositional shape created by the coffins and the people standing on the edge of the mass grave make me think of a giant mouth that is going to consume the bodies of those killed in the flood. The different-sized coffins in the dark hole add to this impression, as they look like broken teeth in blackened gums. The sadness is quite overwhelming when you notice that the many are the coffins are small, holding the bodies of drowned children who will soon be swallowed by the earth.  

Coffins are seen arranged inside a mass grave during the burial of people killed when a dam burst it walls, the water flooding onto nearby homes, in Solai town near Nakuru, Kenya May 16, 2018.   REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

Being hit with a tear gas canister is terrifying but being hit with a tear gas canister that embeds itself in your face must be truly awful. Ibraheem’s Abu Mustafa’s picture of a man with tear gas still pouring from the canister in his face is quite disturbing but something I just can’t stop looking at as I have never seen the like before. Ibraheem followed up with him and you can see the story here 

A wounded Palestinian demonstrator is hit in the face with a tear gas canister fired by Israeli troops during a protest marking al-Quds day (Jerusalem Day), at the Israeli-Gaza border in the southern Gaza strip June 8, 2018.   REUTERS/Ibraheem Abu Mustafa

It’s not often I will chose an image that actually has no people in it but Ahmed Jadallah’s sublime picture from the Aramco oilfields has such a surreal feeling to it I was drawn back to look at it again and again. I love the warm tones, the sweeping curve of the road and the harsh black lines of the telegraph poles cutting through the landscape. And then it struck me: ‘Paris, Texas’. I could hear Ry Cooder sound track  in my head and then remembered an exhibition of the Wim Wenders polaroids.  Read the exclusive story here

The highway towards the Natural Gas Liquids (NGL) facility is seen at Aramco’s Shaybah oilfield in the Empty Quarter, Saudi Arabia May 22, 2018.  REUTERS/Ahmed Jadallah

When I got my first full-time job as a photographer with a small news agency, I was told by my boss: “If you shoot a ‘thumbs-up’ picture or a ‘points at something picture’ I will fire you on the spot. We are better than that.” Sound advice but rules are for breaking, so with these words of wisdom ringing in my ears I select Hamad I Mohammed’s wonderfully happy picture of a beaming woman giving a thumbs-up as she drives her car off the forecourt just after midnight on the first day that women were allowed to drive in Saudi Arabia. You can see more picture here

A Saudi woman celebrates as she drives her car in her neighborhood in Al Khobar, Saudi Arabia, June 24, 2018.    REUTERS/Hamad I Mohammed 

One can only begin to imagine what is going through the mind of the girl in Omar Sanadiki’s picture. Her blank stare seems to pass right through the viewer as she maybe thinks of an uncertain and distant future. What I really like about this picture is how Omar has not only exposed for the shadow detail of the girl, leaving the soldiers in the background to bleach out, but used a shallow depth of field, adding to the feeling that maybe this journey is fading into the past in the girls mind. 

A Syrian refugee girl who left Lebanon looks through a window as she arrives in Qalamoun, Syria June 28, 2018.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki 

Siphiwe Sibeko’s picture of demonstrators blocking roads with burning tyres is wonderful. You are immediately grabbed by the graphic shape of the circle of the black tyre surrounded by orange flames. What I like too is the position of the feet, the protester in full purposeful stride, and the picture brimming with energy.  

A man blocks a road with a burning tyre while protesting against electricity cuts in Klipspruit Soweto, Johannesburg, South Africa July 4, 2018.   REUTERS/Siphiwe Sibeko

There is no escaping the feeling that Ronen Zvulun’s picture is more than a little bizarre. Five people dressed the same, sitting on what looks like a precipice, legs daggling into the abyss looking into Syria. Once you get past looking at the raised arms and wondering why they are doing that, your gaze is propelled to the far horizon through blue skies to a haze that might be created by the clashes near the border or could just be banks of cloud. 

Israeli Druzes sit together watching the Syrian side of the Israel-Syrian border on the Israeli-occupied Golan Heights, Israel, July 7 2018.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun 

Feisal Omar’s picture is a powerful news picture in a classic sense: it’s full of action and drama. Armed men rush through bomb-damaged streets; your eye races around the frame in confusion. Your attention darts from the coloured screen and reds and blacks of the tuk tuk, to the shadows and harsh vertical lines of the grey concrete building behind, back to the gunman on the left, and finally to the three men on the right, with their weapons held at the ready.  You can see the full sequence of pictures here

Somali security agents take position as they secure the scene of a suicide car bombing near Somalia’s Presidential Palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, July 7, 2018.   REUTERS/Feisal Omar

One can only imagine the feelings you must have as a father hugging your daughters after being separated for 18 years, but Tiksa Negeri captures this moment forever. A very quiet image that needs a caption to explain it but you immediately get a sense of the powerful and tight embrace, as his daughters are held close and tight, their faces pressed to his chest. When you look into the shadows of the image, its real beauty comes alive, the sisters looking into each other’s tear-stained eyes, one with her hand on her father’s chest, just inside his jacket, where she can feel his heart beat. The lines on his face speak to me of years of worry and separation. You can see more heart-warming pictures from Asmara here

Adisalem Abu, reacts as he embraces his daughters, after meeting them for the first time in eighteen years at the Asmara International Airport after Ethiopian Airlines flight ET314 arrived in Asmara, Eritrea July 18, 2018.   REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

One normally associates the rainbow colours with LGBT and gay rights demonstrations, but not so in Corinna Kern’s haunting picture. Most colour has been taken out of the image as Corinna shoots through a transparent banner that has Netanyahu’s face printed on it. The image has the look of video frozen in transition as you fade from one sequence to the next. 

Israeli national flags can be seen through a banner with a picture of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, during a LGBT community members protest against the discriminatory surrogate bill in Tel Aviv, Israel July 22, 2018.   REUTERS/Corinna Kern

Some time on vacation but I am drawn as ever to look at the pictures. Here are the images that struck me most during this week from the region.

Iron Dome anti-missile system fires an interceptor missile as rockets are launched from Gaza towards Israel near the southern city of Sderot, Israel August 9, 2018. REUTERS/Amir Cohen 

A former child soldier holds a gun as they participate in a child soldiers' release ceremony, outside Yambio, South Sudan, August 7, 2018. REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu. More picture here

Ethiopian Federal Police officers detain a woman suspected to be carrying explosives during the welcoming ceremony of Jawar Mohammed, U.S.-based Oromo activist and leader of the Oromo Protests, in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia August 5, 2018. REUTERS/Tiksa Negeri

Zohra Bensemra’s picture looks like a combination of a Bridget Riley painting, a Matisse cut out and a cityscape still from the 1927 classic film Metropolis. The harsh light has drained all colour, reducing it almost to blacks and white. The flat black shapes of the foreground look like a cut out that has been laid on the image and once we force our way past this heavy blackness we finally get to see hundreds of people making their way from prayer. What a visual and cultural feast.  Read more from the Haj here

Muslim pilgrims walk out after the Friday prayer at the Grand Mosque ahead of the annual Haj pilgrimage in the Holy city of Mecca, Saudi Arabia August 17, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra 

Andreea Campeanu’s picture of a girl in profile standing shoulder deep in swamp waters has such a dreamlike feeling it’s hard to not make up stories as to what she is thinking about as you look at her. Her head is in perfect profile as she watches the ripples in the still water that break up the reflection of the plants in the background and her head as she moves her arm gently back and forth. The ripples serve to break up the dream as we learn from the story that she is waiting for a food drop from an NGO. 

An internally displaced girl plays in the Sudd Swamp near the town of Nyal, in South Sudan august 19, 2018.   REUTERS/Andreea Campeanu 

We are often faced with tough decisions of using images of children in areas of conflict who are suffering, wounded or even dead. Equally challenging is the edit when we cover stories about children who are sick. We are challenged with showing what is really happening while being respectful and preserving the dignity of those involved. Khaled Abdullah gained access to a cancer hospital in Yemen that is struggling to maintain care as the ongoing war drains access to resources and medicines. Khaled’s picture of a child who is sick with cancer is both powerful and empathetic. You can see the full story here

A girl with cancer lies on the lap of her mother at the national Oncology Centre in Sanaa Yemen, August 6, 2018.   REUTERS/Khaled Abdullah

It’s not often a government leader turns up in a country and disembarks from the aircraft
alone, but Afolabi Sotunde took full advantage of Theresa May’s arrival to Nigeria to
make this wonderfully graphic picture. The horizontal and diagonal lines, triangles and
curves lead us all over this picture until we settle on the warm tones of May’s mustard-
coloured jacket among the cool and calm of the greys and blues. Really quite wonderful.

Britain’s Prime Minister Theresa May arrives in Abuja, Nigeria August 29, 2018.   REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde

A very clever composition by Ronen Zvulun (and a lucky reflection) turns what could be a very dull picture of a leader sitting in a train into a striking portrait. Ronen uses the red reverse L-shaped space to crush all the action of the picture into a busy third of the image. In that third we are rewarded with the glare of white lights, a reversed clock and deep shadows that allow us to settle on Netanyahu’s face. Does it matter that we really can’t see Katz’s face? I don’t think so. What we get is a strong sense of speed.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu sits next to Israel’s Transportation and Intelligence Minister Yisrael Katz during a test-run of the new high-speed train between Jerusalem and Tel Aviv, at the Yitzhak Navon Railway Station in Jerusalem September 20, 2018.   REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

Okay I give in. I tried to resist Ammar Awad’s silhouette picture, but it’s so beautiful in its sweeping curved composition with the almost touching shapes of the hats that I have to include it. It needs no extra explanation, so just enjoy.

Jewish worshippers take part in the Tashlich ritual on the shore of the Mediterranean Sea, ahead of Yom Kippur, the Jewish day of Atonement in Herzliya, Israel, September 17, 2018.   REUTERS/Ammar Awad

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 

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

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

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

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

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 

A woman sits as she waits to cast her vote at a polling station in Kinshasa, Democratic Republic of Congo December 30, 2018.   REUTERS/Baz Ratner