Best photos of the year 2011, Reuters ( 9 )


“Hundreds of people had gathered for a book signing of Ricky Martin’s autobiography and were standing in a long line outside a shopping center in the south of Mexico City. It was sunny when I arrived but many had been waiting since early morning when it was still cold. It was a mixed crowd; I was particularly impressed by a man who was holding Martin’s book, he was holding it tightly and singing passionately to Martin’s music sounding in the background.
When Ricky Martin arrived, he greeted the waiting fans and sat down to sign the books. A woman who was standing in the front row and who was visibly excited at being so close to the performer suddenly took a leap trying to get onto the stage but a bodyguard jumped in and swiftly picked her up and carried her away.
Ricky Martin laughed, he looked half amused, half nervous, but he continued to sign the books as if nothing had happened.”


“Lighting conditions were perfect, as from test times outside the abbey, the exact minute the couple were due to appear. When I had checked out the position two days before in bright sunlight, a huge shadow would have been cast from a nearby building diagonally across them. A white dress would have been totally blown out and shadow detail gone black, rendering the image virtually unusable – especially for magazine clients. The rain that was also forecast in London, which would have given a flat and soft looking frame, never materialized either…so bright even shade was perfect…as nearly every wedding photographer will tell you!
Having Best Man Prince Harry behind, and his interaction with Kate’s sister, the Chief Bridesmaid, Pippa Middleton, was just a spot of luck really, but a wee bonus on the day. Apart from six months of logistical planning by the UK Pictures Desk team and IT support guys for picture transmission and editing in almost real time via under road cabled broadband lines from the media centre to my cameras and laptop, the only other hurdle to jump on the day was crossing my legs from 5.30 in the morning to 1pm in the afternoon as there was no toilet available in our ‘secured, sterile’ photo position opposite the Abbey!”

DAVID GRAY, South Korea

“This picture of Nikki Hamblin of New Zealand laying on the track after falling during a heat of the women’s 1,500 meters was taken during the IAAF World Championships in Daegu, South Korea, on August 28. This front-on slightly raised position at the end of the straight is where I have photographed athletics from for the last decade. As usual, I was watching the runners complete their laps, always ready for someone to be pushed or bumped by a fellow competitor, which can lead to someone, very occasionally, falling and not finishing the race. The final turn leading into the straight is where the most action happens, and it is here you must be ready and alert. I saw Nikki start being bumped by the runners at the top of the straight, and so I focused on her, even though she was in the middle of the field. Then, she disappeared behind the front-runners, and I knew that she had gone down. Now, I had a conflict, as I needed to not only get her lying on the track, but also capture the winners of the heat. So, I quickly focused on her, and then straight after I took this picture, I went back to the runners crossing the line. When I saw that the winners did not react in any way to their victory, I went straight back to Nikki and took some shots of her getting up, and walking off the track crying. Athletics can be a cruel sport, as I am sure she, like all the athletes, put many, many hours into reaching this level.”


“Several UN agencies (OCHA, UNHCR, FAO and UNICEF) and UNAMID were participating in an aid operation in Kuma Garadayat, a remote village located in North Darfur (Sudan), when some straw huts were set on fire accidentally. During the summer, the dryness and the heat frequently cause these kinds of accidents in Darfur. When the first signs of smoke alerted the population, each villager knew their role to play. Men and boys armed themselves with branches to extinguish the fire, while women and girls went to the houses to collect their belongings and tried to move everything out of the way of the fire. This image shows how a frightened girl escaped from the flames. Fortunately, nothing very bad happened. Just part of the village was completely burnt.”

PETE SOUZA for the White House, United States

“This photo was taken in the Situation Room as the President and most of his national security team monitored in real time the mission against Osama bin Laden. The Situation Room is actually comprised of several conference rooms. Most of the pictures that the public has seen inside the Situation Room are from the large conference room. This was in a smaller conference room, which is why everyone was kind of jammed into the room. I made about 100 exposures during the 40 or so minutes they were in this room.”


“While riding through the streets of Guatemala City, I came across this pair of security guards, weapons drawn, struggling with a suspected assassin who had pulled a gun on a public bus. It was a tense situation. I photographed them from a few feet away even as one security guard dropped his pistol and all three fought for it. A crowd of passengers from the bus gathered around us screaming for the stripped-shirt man to be lynched, but the guards called the police and tried to settle the crowd. The police finally did show up and loaded the beaten and bleeding suspect into a pickup truck. The by-standers were angrily protesting, fearing the man would be let off easy, when suddenly my taxi driver grabbed the back of my shirt, letting me know it was time to make a quick exit as the frustrated crowd looked for someone else to turn their anger on.”


“This was the day that most of the journalists left Benghazi. It was when coalition forces were bombing Gaddafi tanks. I heard a lot of noise from the house where I was staying. There were people shooting into the air as the rebels had come across a tank captured from Gaddafi forces. After each bombardment, the rebels got happier and happier.“


“I captured this photo when an oil tanker, carrying fuel for NATO-led forces in Afghanistan, was attacked along the Pak-Afghan highway in Landikotal Khyber Agency. A contact from the anti-narcotics force called to say a powerful bomb had exploded around an oil tanker on the highway near Landikotal Bazar. I rushed there by taxi and travelled some four miles to the spot.
After arriving at the scene, I saw oil tankers and private vehicles, all set ablaze. Local residents and some children were trying to strip vehicles of metal on the spot. I started capturing the scene from a nearby hill. After photographing the scene I went back to my office. Due to frequent power outages, electricity was not available and I used a generator to send the photos.”

BAZ RATNER, Afghanistan

“My assignment in Afghanistan in June and July 2011 was to cover the last days of the Canadian army’s combat role, as they prepare to depart after 10 years in Afghanistan as one of the contributing forces. The unit I was embedded with was the Canadian 22nd royal regiment, or Van Doos as it is known in Canada. They were based in Seprwan Ghar forward operating base (FOB) in the Panjwai district, Kandahar province southern Afghanistan. I was going out on patrols with them for a while. On June 12 the container I was staying in started shaking from shelling blasts. I went to see what was happening. U.S. soldiers from 2nd Platoon, B battery 2-8 field artillery were firing their howitzers about 200 meters from where I was trying to sleep.
I took some pictures of them shooting it and as they repositioned the piece and fired, the cannon recoiled back and the gravel surrounding it was flung into the air. I managed to get a picture where the gravel seems suspended around the cannon and specialist Lucas Couvaras from Phoenix Arizona, who was there to reloaded the cannon, surprising both him and me.”


“It was early in the morning when I went to Iskola Bulisiya square in Somalia’s capital Mogadishu where many people were waiting for a public execution. Suddenly a convoy with two blindfolded men arrived. After a few minutes a group of soldiers started the preparations and opened fire on the two men. Then a Somali government soldier with an AK47 shot at close range to execute two former soldiers Abdi Sankus Abdi (R) and Abdullahi Jinow Guure (L) as they cried loudly saying “forgive us, we never, ever kill humankind”. After they died their relatives came and covered them with white clothes and they were buried near the square. The two men were found guilty of killing another soldier and a civilian on the basis of witness testimony, the Chairman of the Military Court Hassan Mohamed Hussein Mungab said.”

Best photos of the year 2011, Reuters ( 6 )


“It was a very hot and dry day in Hadado village in the Wajir district in Kenya. I was in Hadado village, to cover the drought situation in the area for the Danish Red Cross. There was not many picture stories, at that stage about the drought situation, but the NGO tried to get the public’s attention to the situation that worsened every day.
When I came into Hadado it was like a nightmare for the people living there. There was very little water and small fights over the resources broke out around the borehole. The village population was normally 400 families but now people had to flee to get some of the water and food from the WFP, so the population was more then 1200 families and people was still coming from far away.
The two elderly women in this picture were new arrivals and weren’t registered to get food, so they were dependent on other families to give them just a little food to survive. The woman in red stood up in front of me, so I could take her picture and show their hopeless situation out here in what has become a desert.”


“I waited several weeks for this frame. The floods had been the story in Thailand for some time but we all knew that the big frame would come when the water came into the capital. This picture has an urban look, a calmness of the end of the day and of a religious man caught in the big story. It was shot with very little light available and one would expect pictures to be shaken and blurred. But, no – despite the object moving and the lens wide open – frame by frame was in focus. I guess some of the monk’s calmness helped.”


“After travelling about 3 hours from Abuja to Niger State, northern Nigeria, on my way to cover the National Assembly elections in 3 states, I noticed a huge smoke cloud in the distance. I thought election violence had broken out and decided to investigate further. It turned out after a 15-20 minute drive that the smoke was not from election violence, rather a vandalised pipeline conveying petroleum had caught fire. Before the vote there had been concerns as to violence during the Nigeria elections. However to see that the smoke was from pipeline vandalization, which has been a recurrent incidence in the Niger delta region of Nigeria; and now was happening in Dadanbili, Niger State, was a deviation from the normal. So for me this was news. My plan to travel around 3 states for the election that day finally paid off with these pictures after the cancellation of the National Assembly elections.”


“It was a normal morning on May 2, 2011 until I turned on my television and noticed the flashing red screen breaking news that al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden has been killed near Islamabad.
I was anxious and paused for a moment to reflect on how this was the news the world, especially the United States, had been waiting for ever since the war against Al-Qaeda was declared in 2001 and Osama Bin Laden became the most wanted man in the world for his role in 9/11 tragedy. I reflected on how things had changed globally after 9/11 and how it also affected the common Pakistani people from all walks of life.
My first response was to check-in with Islamabad based photographerMian Khursheed. Before asking anything about the news he said, “Please prepare yourself if we need you here – please check flights.” The next day I was in Abbottabad, just northwest of Islamabad. The road leading to the compound, where bin Laden was reportedly killed, was packed with local and international media vehicles waiting to get in. At the location, large crowds of local residents and media personnel had gathered. Everyone was curious to get close to the residential compound to have a look at the place where bin Laden had been killed.
Vegetable fields surrounded the compound and I noticed local children gathered and were collecting debris left by a heavy firefight. Residents were asking questions of the media to confirm if the incident really occurred. They could not believe that Osama bin Laden had been their neighbor.
Even though the compound area was cordoned off, the city of Abbottabad felt normal as people still were going to work and children to school. The shops were still open. Outside the compound area, no one was really concerned about what had happened or what was happening now.
On the morning of May 5, I visited the compound in a quest to find any good picture and suddenly noticed a boy playing with a tennis ball just in front of the compound. It gave me a sense of hope, that things could finally go back to being normal after all that had changed after 9/11.
As I was thinking of it and taking photos – again questions started floating through my mind. Would the ‘War on Terror’ end after the killing of Osama bin Laden? I thought about 9/11 and how it had changed Pakistan. September 11 in Pakistan was previously recognized as the day Pakistan’s founder Muhammad Ali Jinnah died. In Pakistan now the 9/11 attacks get more attention. In these ten years, I feel Pakistan has suffered the most. It has faced hundreds of suicide bombings that have led to thousands of deaths and injuries and caused tremendous losses.
I stayed in Abbottabad until May 22 until I received a call in the middle of the night from the Islamabad office. “There has been an attack on an air base in Karachi. Prepare yourself, we may need you there,” the voice of my editor said. And the next afternoon I was back in Karachi.”


“This photo was taken at Israel’s Qalandiya checkpoint between Jerusalem and Ramallah during the holiday of the holy month of Ramadan. The Palestinian boy was looking at an Israeli soldier as he took part in a protest against the Israeli checkpoint and the conditions placed on Palestinians wanting to cross to Jerusalem from the West Bank. The Israeli authorities usually place an age restriction for Palestinians wanting to cross into Jerusalem, such that only men over the age of 55 and women over the age of 45 can cross whereas others need special permission to cross. After this photo was taken clashes between Israeli soldiers and the protesters erupted.”


“It was in Sanaa two months into the uprising against President Ali Abdullah Saleh. An ambulance driver carried the injured protester into a mosque converted to a field hospital, where worshippers prayed alongside the wounded, as the protests outside intensified.”


“I took this picture when I was with the rebels fighting Gaddafi’s troops, about two miles from the city of Sirte. I was mindful of what was happening, when I saw a man carrying an RPG. I was surprised by the courage of the man which insisted on fighting to win his freedom.”


“After observing activities that go on under some of the numerous bridges in Sao Paulo, one day I came across a boxing academy whose goal was to give a chance to poor people to exercise and practice boxing. After beginning the story, one day I was photographing different boxers punching a discarded refrigerator. Two of them, Gorila and Chibata, were ones who I had been following before in their training. The owner of the academy has a dog that was watching them train. I decided to include it in the photo as one of the gym’s permanent residents.”


“Whether you’re a top professional golfer or a weekend hacker, all golfers feel the frustration of a backup on the course. As Phil Mickelson approached the 15th tee at the U.S. Open in Bethesda, Maryland, it was clear that he was in for a long wait before teeing off. Instead of swinging his club for 10 minutes or looking through his bag to nervously kill time, Mickelson simply used the moment to take a break in a marshal’s chair and enjoy a snack. It was a very warm day, and the shade and the chair must have seemed too good to pass up. It is always difficult to get a different golf picture, but this was one of those off moments that provided a departure from the standard golf image.”


“I was staying in the Rixos Hotel, part of the official Libyan Government foreign press core. We would be taken out most days to photograph things the Libyan Government were keen to show the world. We were taken to a house in Tripoli which had been bombed by NATO. There were a couple of buildings very close together which had been flattened. The officials who were accompanying us on the tour of the buildings pointed out that one of the buildings had been some kind of medical storage facility. We stayed for about 45 minutes walking around the buildings. After about 20 minutes I looked around and saw a gazelle standing in the ruins of one of the buildings. It looked very scared and I thought I would be lucky to get a picture because I assumed it would bolt at any second. I took a couple of pictures as quickly as possible and then tried to get myself into a better position. To my surprise the animal didn’t run and I moved as close as possible.”

POOL, United States (Entertainment editor Sam Mircovich’s account)

“The opening minutes of Dr. Conrad Murray’s trial in the death of pop star Michael Jackson provided the most startling image of the proceedings. Deputy District Attorney’s David Walgren’s opening statement featured before and after pictures of Jackson taken 24 hours apart; one onstage during rehearsals for his sold out shows at the O2 arena, and the other, lying dead on a hospital gurney.
The image sent shockwaves around the world, as no one had seen an image of Jackson after his untimely death. As photo editor for Reuters, I was responsible for filing the pool images to the Singapore Photo Desk. I had a sinking suspicion the prosecution would open the trial with a bang and I was right.
I knew that if a graphic image of Jackson was shown, it would be at least 90 minutes before the pool photographer would be able to send it to us. Since the video feed was also pool, I quickly chatted with Reuters TV producer Lindsay Claiborn that we might need to frame grab from the video if warranted.
I was watching a web feed on my computer, and once the image was broadcast I shouted to Lindsay that we need to act quickly. She dropped what she was doing and moved to video editing software to grab the incoming images. Within a couple of minutes we had the images and I moved back to my desk to size the image and caption it. Once filed, the Singapore photo desk turned them around quickly for the world to see. Total filing time; 10 minutes.
Our competition ended up moving their own frame grabs at the end of the day, along with images shot by the pool photographer. It was a nice beat on a top story that week.”

Best photos of the year 2011, Reuters ( 5 )


“I had become severely ill in the days target killings in Karachi hit their peak. Covering breaking news is my passion. I figured the best way to get over my illness was to rejoin news coverage on August 23. The same day a source called to inform me that a dead body, found in a sack, was being shifted to a hospital. I rushed to the hospital where I found that the victim was Imran Ali. He was not dead, but in fact only injured.
Ali ,who was shot by gunmen three times during a months long wave of political and ethnic violence in Karachi, was lying on a stretcher while medics tended to his wounds. I was preparing to shoot some frames when I saw a family, including Ali’s eight-year-old niece, approach his stretcher.
I disengaged with everything and kept my focus on the girl, Sumayya, as she stood next to her uncle’s bed. As Ali opened his eyes to look towards his family, Sumayya’s mouth dropped. It was the moment I was waiting for.”

BRIAN SNYDER, United States

“At its most basic, and least cynical, political campaigns are about politicians trying to connect with voters, and voters connecting with a particular candidate. As a photographer covering a political event, I want to try to show that in my photographs, which means getting beyond a photograph of a politician speaking at a podium. Oftentimes it takes the form of politicians shaking hands with voters. But in this case, former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin was clearly determined to keep her distance from the crowd. She shook no hands as she made her way onstage, and as it turned out, none at the end of her speech. After making some photographs of Palin speaking, I positioned myself at the edge of the stage near the girl reflected in her iPad, thinking if Palin was going to shake some hands or sign some autographs, she would come over to the girl. The girl was taking photographs and videos of Palin with her iPad during the speech, so the reflection was right there for me to see as I stood there. The rest was figuring out how much depth of field I wanted in the image and lining up the girl’s reflection in the iPad’s screen.”


“Antonio Banderas is a prophet in his homeland.
He was elected to deliver the traditional speech known as the “Pregon” to declare the year’s Malaga Holy Week open at Cervantes Theatre in Malaga. He arrived at the theatre very happy accompanied by his wife Melanie Griffith and their daughter Estela del Carmen.
I like taking pictures of him, because he knows what the photographers want of him. He is a lover of his city and a latin lover in the world. He loves the Holy Week and takes part as a penitent in the “Esperanza”, “Lagrimas y Favores” and “Fusionadas” brotherhoods. During this week it is very difficult to take pictures of him, but during the “Pregon” all is easier.
While Banderas was delivering his speech, I decided to send the first photos for the wire, but my 3G modem had no signal inside the theatre, so I had to go outside to send them. Many people were watching Banderas’ speech on a live screen TV outside the theatre very excited, like these two lovers… of Banderas.”


”It was very early in the morning that I was on my way to shoot some daily life pictures as there were no big events happening in Kathmandu during that day. I was planning to visit the ancient city of Patan to shoot some pictures. On my way to Patan, my eyes fell on these two small children sitting on top of their luggage waiting to be fetched in Lalitpur, likely to leave the city. I was on my motor bike looking at them from the other side while I was driving. I immediately turned my bike and knew that this would make a good picture so I parked my bike and went close. I took out my camera and took a couple of shots of the boys. Their parents were close by watching me while I took the pictures. For the glowing effect on the boy’s face I waited for a vehicle to pass by, that created the mood in the picture. After taking a couple of pictures I thanked the boys and their parents and headed back for Patan. I was fortunate that I was at the right time, right place and right moment to get an opportunity to shoot the pictures of these boys.”


“You know how some days will stay with your forever? Well on February 11, 2011 I could tell you what I had for breakfast and what socks I was wearing (and not just because I am a creature of habit). What a day and what a night that was. I had been in Egypt for a couple of wonderful, stressful, beautiful and crazy weeks and was out shooting when our editor Steve Crisp called saying there were more rumors that President Hosni Mubarak was actually about to quit and I should hurry to Tahrir Square. Lucky, lucky, lucky me, I was only a couple of minutes away. What was not so lucky was when I arrived in Cairo custom officials had confiscated most of my kit – leaving me with a small camera and a 50mm lens. Steve had graciously lent me a couple of bodies and lenses but between us we had no flash gun.
Anyway as most of the world was waiting for Mubarak to step down I watched nervously as the light disappeared faster than a neutrino in a Swiss lab. So when the news finally broke that Mubarak had gone I had to find light – there was none. A temporary power cut made the street lights (my savior on many a previous night) redundant. I watched as all these jubilant protestors jumped and hugged and kissed and prayed and there was nothing I could do except weep as I shot too many unusable muzzy images. I was living my recurring nightmare. Thankfully, soon the power came back and patches of light appeared. I saw this guy holding a computer aloft like it was the World Cup and chanting “internet, internet…” I took a lot of frames that night but this one seems to tell the story of what had become known as the “facebook revolution”.”


“On May 26, the opposition refused to stop the rally in front of the Parliament building in Tbilisi in spite of the offer from the authorities, after which riot police appeared on Rustaveli Avenue. It was raining heavily so for me there was no sense to use flash. When the rally was dispersed and the smoke from tear gas disappeared I saw a person in handcuffs, there was blood on his face asking for help. I immediately shot his face which was begging for help without words. Then I asked a nearby police officer for a doctor’s help. The detained man was later taken to hospital.”


“I was in Chechnya when the airport bomber’s name, Magomed Yevloyev, was announced. His family lived in the nearby republic of Ingushetia. I had no contacts or real understanding of where his family lived. A colleague at Reuters warned me that another journalist and a photographer had been arrested for trying to get into Yevloyev’s home for an interview. I decided to wait a day before driving there. I left from Grozny very early in the morning and parked my car far from her home. It is incredibly difficult to operate in the North Caucasus, there’s an insurgency taking place in the region. This situation was especially intense because the family’s home was closely monitored by federal security forces.
I was lucky to make it into her home and was the first to interview and photograph the suicide bomber’s mother. She sat on her dead son’s bed during the conversation. I took her portrait right away and hid the camera’s memory card in my shoe, just in case I was stopped. It took me about an hour to get back to the city where I transmitted the images back to the bureau in Moscow.”


“After spending days in the terrible earthquake and tsunami hit area, I was dispatched to Tokyo to cover stock markets and other reactions. I felt it was time to prepare to return to my home base, Seoul. Then I got an assignment to watch evacuations in Saitama, near Tokyo. It was nine days after the disaster. The previous day about 2,300 people mainly from Futaba area, a city near the quake-stricken Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant, arrived in the evacuees’ new shelter Saitama Super Arena to evacuate after radiation leakage warnings. When I arrived at the sports complex, I saw many people carrying relief goods and waiting in lines to donate it. I took pictures of the scene. Then I entered the building to see the evacuees’ lives. The large-scale arena was already crowded with lots of evacuees. In every hallway there were tired people who had to leave their hometown. The Saitama arena was located about 250 km (155 miles) away from Futaba.
This elderly man and woman who seemed to be a married couple rested in a hallway of the arena. They built their new house in a space cordoned off with cardboard in a hallway. Maybe six or seven cardboard boxes were used to make their own space. There was a small gate too. They surely brought almost nothing when they left suddenly from their home. The couple had only about-three-square-meters of space and some relief supplies like blankets, bread, cup noodles and water bottles. The cardboard house would be their home for a while until they could go back home. As it turned out, most media, maybe all journalists except me, couldn’t cover the evacuees in the arena. Because I couldn’t read Japanese, I just passed the warning sign, ‘No media access (in Japanese)’, it read at the entrance to the arena.”

LUCAS JACKSON, United States

“This image was part of a collection that we photographed in collaboration with the National September 11 Memorial and Museum in New York before the 10th anniversary of the September 11 attacks. Fellow staff photographer Mike Segar had built a really great working relationship with the people from the Museum and we had been going in periodically to photograph both the construction of the new towers and the museum as it planned out their exhibits and acquired artifacts related to the disaster. We photographed around 20 different artifacts that had been donated to the museum that had a direct connection to September 11th as a special package we coordinated with text, video, and stills. Most of the items that we photographed that day were donated by the people who had either worn the items or had some connection to them, including these shoes. Seeing the hardened blood on the side of these was a rather poignant detail and I decided that for this image I wanted to isolate that piece of the story. Most of the other items were photographed with a soft box and at a very high aperture in order to preserve as much detail as possible but I really felt that the isolation helped this image.”


“It was a very hot and dry day in Hadado village in the Wajir district in Kenya. I was in Hadado village, to cover the drought situation in the area for the Danish Red Cross. There was not many picture stories, at that stage about the drought situation, but the NGO tried to get the public’s attention to the situation that worsened every day.
When I came into Hadado it was like a nightmare for the people living there. There was very little water and small fights over the resources broke out around the borehole. The village population was normally 400 families but now people had to flee to get some of the water and food from the WFP, so the population was more then 1200 families and people was still coming from far away.
The two elderly women in this picture were new arrivals and weren’t registered to get food, so they were dependent on other families to give them just a little food to survive. The woman in red stood up in front of me, so I could take her picture and show their hopeless situation out here in what has become a desert.”