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Eye witness

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Stars of the bar

Monday 30 March 2015 Eye witness


"We tend to photograph lawyers on the fly, on their way in or out of court,” writes AFP photographer Joel Saget. “The pictures often come out looking pretty much the same, so AFP decided it would be a good idea - for our archives - to shoot a series of portraits of France’s star lawyers. We didn’t expect our subjects would be quite so photogenic.”

(Photo: AFP / Joel Saget)

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Coming home to Kobane

Friday 27 March 2015 Eye witness

A Kurdish Syrian woman walks with her child past the ruins of the town of Kobane, also known as Ain al-Arab, on March 25, 2015. (AFP PHOTO/YASIN AKGUL)

"I travelled to Kobane a day before Newroz, the Kurdish New Year, and stayed for a week to photograph people returning to their homes, two months after the Kurds recaptured the town from Islamic State fighters," writes the photographer Yasin Akgul. "The last time I was here, just after the Islamists were chased out, the place was strewn with burning cars and corpses. Eight percent of the town is destroyed, But two months on, there are signs of normal life beginning to resume."

(Photo: AFP / Yasin Akgul)

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Surfing on the Severn

Tuesday 24 March 2015 Eye witness

A surfer takes the wave of the tidal bore called Severn bore on the River Severn at Minsterworth in Gloucestershire, South West England on March 21, 2015. The Severn bore is an annual 'supertide' phenomenon on the River Severn. (AFP PHOTO / GEOFF CADDICK)

"The surfers were there, limbering up on the shingle bank, well before the wave came in," writes photographer Geoff Caddick. "The River Severn on the border between England and Wales is world-famous for its bore – a rare phenomenon where the incoming tide forms a wave that rides against the current up a river or bay. I was sent to cover what was billed as a 'five-star' bore, with the Moon exerting an extra gravitational pull due to its alignment with the Sun and Earth after Friday’s eclipse."

(Photo: AFP / Geoff Caddick)

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Dusk in the Arctic morning

Friday 20 March 2015 Eye witness

People watch a total solar eclipse from Longyearbyen, Svalbard, an archipeligo administered by Norway on March 20, 2015.  (AFP PHOTO / STAN HONDA)

"I’ve been interested in astronomy ever since I was a kid. Late last year I left my job as an AFP news photographer to pursue a documentary project – as well as the night sky and astronomy photography that I love," writes Stan Honda. "I’ve always wanted to see a total solar eclipse." So when a friend told him of a trip to Norway's Arctic Svalbard archipelago, one of only two places with the Faroe Islands which would be experiencing “totality” on March 20, 2015, he signed up.

(Photo: AFP / Stan Honda)

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A roach with your ceviche?

Wednesday 18 March 2015 Eye witness

A woman prepares Chicharron (fried pork) sandwiches at Mistura Fair 2009, an international gastronomic fair in Lima, on September 27, 2009. (AFP PHOTO/RAUL GARCIA PEREIRA)

"Within every Peruvian lurks an inner chef, an inner food critic," writes AFP's Lima correspondent Moises Avila, who returned home after 10 years abroad to witness a food revolution in the city recently dubbed a gastronomic mecca. "The specialities that delight today’s tourists were born on simple stoves, rustled up by our ancestors who concocted dishes with whatever they could lay their hands on."

"But every Peruvian also has his 'Tia Veneno' – his 'Aunty Poison' – the street vendors who throw together the dishes that everyone eats, in the hygiene conditions everyone can well imagine, without anyone dying of food poisoning. And some things remain the same as ever. Like the possibility of stumbling across a crunchy, six-legged surprise in a dish bought on the sidewalk."

(Photo: AFP / Raul Garcia Pereira)

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Under Gaza with Islamic Jihad

Tuesday 17 March 2015 Eye witness

A Palestinian militant from the Islamic Jihad's armed wing, the Al-Quds Brigades, squats in a tunnel under the Gaza Strip on March 3, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / MAHMUD HAMS)

"We have visited Gaza tunnels dozens of times before – but only ever the ones linking the enclave to neighbouring Egypt and used to pass goods across the border," write AFP's Mahmoud Hams and Yahya Hassouna. "Today, we are going to get a glimpse of a world under Gaza and the fighters who dwell there. Those same fighters who vanished from view during last summer’s war. Islamic Jihad has agreed to take us down into the heart of its best-kept secret."

(Photo: AFP / Mahmud Hams)

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Sci-Fi in Bangkok

Monday 16 March 2015 Eye witness

The Macha Bucha festival at the Dhammakaya Temple in Bangkok on March 4, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / NICOLAS ASFOURI)

"The Wat Phra Dhammakaya temple in Thailand is one of a kind, with its flying-saucer shaped stupa made from thousands of golden Buddha statues," writes AFP photographer Nicolas Asfouri. The Buddhist cult that manages the complex, the Dhammakaya Movement, is highly controversial. It has just been forced to reimburse a donation of around 20 million euros (600 million baht) after an uproar over the dubious origin of the funds. But the festival processions at the temple, which can draw 100,000 devotees, are simply spectacular.

(Photo: AFP / Nicolas Asfouri)

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The day everything bright turned black

Monday 16 March 2015 Eye witness

A Yazidi Iraqi woman in the Bajid Kandala camp in Kurdistan's western Dohuk province on August 13, 2014 (AFP PHOTO / AHMAD AL-RUBAYE)

Threatened with rape, sexual slavery or forced marriage as the Islamic State group overran their homes last year, they fled at a moment's notice, leaving their lives behind. In early March, a dozen Yazidi and Christian women refugees in Arbil, Iraqi Kurdistan, took part in a workshop organised by the charity Chime for Change and hosted by journalists Mariane Pearl and Randa Habib. The goal was to teach them how to use narrative techniques to help share their terrible stories.

"I put my journalistic habits to one side, instead following my gut-feeling and intuition," writes Randa Habib. "This isn’t about extracting from these women good stories to print. It’s about making them feel comfortable, creating a bond that will enable them to tell me painful, private things. Simply because it will do them good."

"Their stories, when they share them at last, will stay with me for a long time."

(Photo: AFP / Ahmad Al-Rubaye)

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Bjork’s ‘Army of Me’: music, and fame, on a wall

Friday 13 March 2015 Eye witness

An exhibit in the Bjork exhibition at MoMA (The Museum of Modern Art ), a retrospective dedicated to the multifaceted work of the singer, composer, and musician (AFP PHOTO / TIMOTHY A. CLARY)

"So how exactly do you put music on a wall? And is it even worth doing?" asks AFP music correspondent Shaun Tandon. "I headed to the preview of the Bjork retrospective at MoMA in New York with the hope this would be mind-blowing. And the end product is wondrously innovative. Yet I came out with a sense that this was also an experiment in the reaches of pop culture hagiography."

(Photo: AFP / Timothy A. Clary)

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Lost in a metal shell

Thursday 12 March 2015 Eye witness

A French Navy HawkEye prepares to take off from the aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle operating in the Gulf on February 26, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / PATRICK BAZ)

"How do I feel about spending a week on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf? To be honest, as the prospect takes shape, I can feel myself tensing up," writes AFP's Valerie Leroux. "A week in a metal shell, nine storeys high, trekking up and down mile-long gangways and teetering ladders, to the non-stop soundtrack of Rafale fighters roaring into the air on the deck above? But to hell with claustrophobia, never mind deafening decibels, I decide to go all in and board a plane for Bahrain. I won’t regret it."

(Photo: AFP / Patrick Baz)

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Tea in the desert with the Saudi king

Wednesday 11 March 2015 Eye witness

Inside the palace at Diriyah farms (AFP / Jo Biddle)

"Despite the glamorous sounding nature of flying around the world with top US diplomat John Kerry, life on the road often consists of hanging around anonymous hotel rooms or conference centres hoping for a snippet of information about closed-door negotiations," writes AFP State Department correspondent Jo Biddle. "So when the Saudis gave only limited access for the media travelling with Kerry to visit new King Salman in the ancient city of Diriyah, I jumped at the chance."

(Photo: AFP / Jo Biddle)

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A drone over Paris

Monday 9 March 2015 Eye witness

AFP biker Guy Andrieu throws an unpowered drone into the air, for the purposes of shooting an illustration picture, in la Defense business disctrict on February 27, 2015 (AFP / DOMINIQUE FAGET)

"Mysterious drones in the skies over Paris and several nuclear power plants have been giving the French authorities a headache in recent weeks," writes the AFP photographer Dominique Faget. "There’s naturally a lot of media interest in the phenomenon - and an appetite for illustration photos to match. But it would take a major stroke of luck for AFP to capture a real-life drone in the sky over the capital."

So how do you send a drone into the sky over Paris, without getting thrown in jail?

(Photo: AFP / Dominique Faget)

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Hipstamatic in the high seas

Friday 6 March 2015 Eye witness

A picture taken with a Hipstamatic application shows members of the French navy aircaft carrier Charles de Gaulle's safety and security team taking a break as the ship is operating in the Gulf on February 25, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / PATRICK BAZ)

"We board at the dock in Bahrain in late February: five days at sea to witness the deployment of the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle in the fight against the Islamic State group – a floating town carrying 2,000 people on an eight-week mission in the Persian Gulf," writes AFP photographer Patrick Baz. "Aircraft carriers are a pretty familiar environment for me by now, having spent time on both French and US vessels during the Gulf Wars, the Afghan conflict – you name it. This time though, I got a chance to do something different."

(Photo: AFP / Patrick Baz)

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Fifty shades of DSK: from courtroom to sex club

Wednesday 4 March 2015 Eye witness

A woman wears a mask at the Venus erotic fair in Berlin October, 2012 (AFP PHOTO / JOHANNES EISELE)

"I am sitting alone at the bar. Nervously I sip a glass of wine and pick at a bowl of peanuts, more often than I need to. I try to assume an air of confidence, but can’t help worrying how that looks to the couples entering the club, their eyes stopping to linger on the woman sitting here by herself," writes AFP's Fran Blandy. "My awkward presence at the bar of a Parisian swingers’ club is a direct consequence of my presence, the previous week, in a room with arguably less sumptuous decor, fewer animal prints and flickering candles: the court in Lille, northern France, where Dominique Strauss-Kahn is on trial."

(Photo: AFP / Johannes Eisele)

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In the Milan street style bubble

Tuesday 3 March 2015 Eye witness

A woman takes pictures in the street before the show for fashion house Fendi at the women Fall / Winter 2015/16 Milan's Fashion Week on February 26, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / GABRIEL BOUYS)

"Shooting a catwalk show in Milan usually means packing in like sardines with a gang of grumpy photographers, and waiting passively to snap the models as they walk towards you," writes AFP's Gabriel Bouys. "In the street you’re on the hunt for images – but during fashion week you never have far to go. You can spot them all over the city like a colourful tribe. The fashionistas are everywhere. For someone like me who is no fashion expert, it is all a lot of fun. An unreal bubble."

(Photo: AFP / Gabriel Bouys)

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Morning commute in New Delhi

Friday 27 February 2015 Eye witness

Indian passengers stand and hang onto a train as it departs from a station on the outskirts of New Delhi on February 25, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/MONEY SHARMA)

"I joined AFP at the start of the month, as a photojournalist in New Delhi, and I’m looking to do something different to illustrate the big story of the week: the unveiling of the annual rail budget, " writes Money Sharma. "I have heard of a station in the Delhi suburbs where the trains travel into the city each morning with hundreds of commuters hanging on the outside. This sounds to me like a great picture."

(Photo: AFP / Money Sharma)

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Photography: telling art from fraud

Wednesday 25 February 2015 Eye witness

An apparently doctored image issued by the North Korean agency KCNA in 2013 and rejected by AFP after analysis (AFP /KCNA)

The above image was never distributed to AFP's clients. Issued by the North Korean agency KCNA in 2013, it purports to show military manoeuvres in the east of the country. But analysis of the missile fire and smoke, using specialist software, revealed a series of anomalies indicating it had been manipulated. It is, in all likelihood, a doctored image. This is an extreme case, but fraud in photography is far from limited to North Korea, Syria or extremist propaganda movements. On February 12, an unprecedented number of entrants were disqualified from the World Press Photo awards for tampering with their images - reviving an old debate about the fine line, in photojournalism, between artistry and fraud.


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At the Hamas youth camp

Tuesday 24 February 2015 Eye witness

A Palestinian youth crawls in a tunnel during a graduation ceremony for a training camp run by the Hamas movement on January 29, 2015 in Khan Yunis, in the southern Gaza Strip (AFP PHOTO / SAID KHATIB)

"We’ve been given a meeting point at the Yarmuk stadium in Gaza. My colleagues and I are here to watch thousands of youths ‘graduate’ from a training camp run by Hamas’s armed wing, the Ezzedine al-Qassam Brigades," writes AFP's Mai Yaghi. "Each year since taking power in Gaza in 2007, the Islamist movement has staged 'summer camps' for boys aged 14 to 21 in the Palestinian enclave, dispensing religious education and combat training with the aim of 'resisting' sworn enemy Israel. But with swathes of Gaza in ruins following last year’s 50-day war with Israel, a record 17,000 youths enrolled for a week-long camp in January, overseen for the first time by Qassam militants."

(Photo: AFP / Said Khatib)

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11 Days on Planet Cinema

Monday 23 February 2015 Eye witness

French actress Juliette Binoche poses on the red carpet for the opening ceremony of the 65th Berlin International Film Festival Berlinale on February 5, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN)

"Being a Berlin correspondent these days means a hard focus on crises like Ukraine, Greece and jihadist violence in Europe. But come each February, the spotlight shifts for me as the global cinema industry descends on the German capital for the Berlin film festival. It always means a head-spinning change of gears," writes AFP's Deborah Cole. "The Berlinale, born when West Berlin was a Cold War outpost, takes pride in balancing gritty world cinema with the big star vehicles. We journalists like to see ourselves as shrewd natural sceptics, holding up our end of the bargain with readers. So it's always a little jarring going to the press conferences with movie stars that inevitably begin with an effusive round of applause."

(Photo: AFP / Odd Andersen)

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A brief game of football on Ukraine frontline

Tuesday 17 February 2015 Eye witness

Ukrainian servicemen play football on a road at Svitlodarsk, near Debaltseve, during a ceasefire on February 15, 2015 (AFP Photo / Volodymyr Shuvayev)

"The spontaneous kickabout really felt like a moment that was truly relaxing", writes Volodymyr Shuvayev, a freelance photographer working for AFP in Eastern Ukraine, who witnessed this scene at an Ukrainian checkpoint during a ceasefire between Ukrainian forces and pro-Russian rebels on February 15. "So I started shooting. I hoped the pictures would speak for themselves and illustrate the spirit of a ceasefire. It's an iconic image-- the soldier celebrating a halt in fighting with a simple game of football."

(Photo: AFP / Volodymyr Shuvayev)

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