Closed to the press: Image control at the White House
A group of media organizations, including AFP, last week took the highly unusual step of writing to the White House press office to protest what they consider unreasonable limitations on photographing President Barack Obama.
White House correspondent Tangi Quemener talks about some of the difficulties journalists are facing.
Survivors of Super Typhoon Haiyan march in a religious procession through the devastated village of Tolosa in the Philippines. This image, captured by AFP photographer Philippe Lopez, became one of the most-shared on the agency's social media sites. Lopez explains how he was able to get the shot.
A young woman in northern Italy protesting the construction of a high–speed rail cutting through the French-Italian Alps kisses the Plexiglas visor of a policeman in full riot gear. The officer is immobilised just long enough for AFP photographer Marco Bertorello to capture the moment.
"It’s a scene that plays out dozens of times. I switch on my camera and the person I’m talking to flashes the sweetest smile. Even in these, the hardest of times, such smiles light up the face of many Filipinos. But then the moment inevitably comes where the person I’m speaking to breaks down. It’s as though their talking to a journalist suddenly makes them realise the extent of their misfortune.
"So, I set down my camera. Often, I end up holding the person as they break down. My mission to Tacloban lasted only five days but in terms of life lessons, I feel like I got 15 years’ worth."
AFP videojournalist Agnes Bun was one of the first reporters to arrive in Tacloban after the typhoon. Here she recounts what it was like to work as a journalist in such a disaster zone.
Hope is born amid Philippine disaster zone
“I could not help but be touched as the proud new parents looked at their baby swathed in a soiled cloth. They asked if I wanted to hold her, but I refused; I had been out among the dead and probably covered in all sorts of bacteria.”
AFP Manila correspondent Jason Gutierrez traveled to the devastated city of Tacloban where he found hope amid the rubble.
Keeping tally as dozens are sentenced to die
A Bangladeshi court this week sentenced more than 150 soldiers to death and jailed hundreds more, after a mass trial over a 2009 mutiny in which scores of top officers were massacred. AFP’s Bangladesh correspondent Kamrul Khan was in the massive courtroom to witness the extraordinary trial, the largest of its type in the world.
Syrian refugees go hungry in Istanbul park
More than 600,000 Syrians have sought refuge in neighbouring Turkey since conflict broke out in their country in March 2011. About a third of them are crowded into about 20 camps near the border, with the remainder spread across Turkey. In recent months, more and more of them have been seen in Istanbul. AFP photographer Bulent Kilic saw the increasing desperation of some of these people in an Istanbul park.
"I’d never seen a soldier cry"
Luis Robayo, 31, is an AFP photographer in the tumultuous Cauca region in southwest Colombia. On October 29 he won the Simon Bolivar prize for journalism, his country’s most prestigious award, for this series of images of a revolt by the Nasa indigenous tribe in July 2012.
In Albania, about 600 kids could not back to school this year because their lives were threatened under the country’s "gjakmarrja" or "blood feud". The barbaric custom has persisted since the 15th century, especially in the north of the country. AFP’s Tirana correspondent Briseida Mema recently visited a community impacted by the bloody tradition.
October 21, 2012. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad's army has just bombarded the Shaar district in Aleppo. Everything is in disarray. Amid the carnage, photographer Fabio Bucciarelli, working for AFP, captures this powerful series of images. On October 12, 2013, he received the Nikon Photo Prize for professionals in the Bayeux-Calvados Award for War Correspondents.
Blood and spears at Thailand's vegetarian festival
Walking on fire or driving a brace of swords through your cheeks may not be activities most commonly associated with vegetarianism. But for participants of one Thai festival it's the height of religious devotion.
Thailand's nine-day Vegetarian Festival in the tourist island of Phuket is a spectacular -- and bloody -- Chinese Taoist procession in which devotees purify themselves in public displays of self-mutilation. AFP photographer Christophe Archambault was at this year’s bloody display.
Drive-through dining: Meeting Britain's roadkill gourmet
There's nothing Arthur Boyt enjoys more than a nice badger-and-polecat stew, made from animals killed on Britain's roads. As part of a series about extreme food, AFP video journalist Helen Percival meets the eccentric gourmet. (AFP Photo / Katherine Haddon)
Under rebel sniper fire in the Philippines
Muslim rebels have been fighting since the 1970s for an independent or autonomous homeland in the south of the mainly Catholic Philippines. An estimated 150,000 people have died in the conflict. Manila-based AFP photographer Teodoro Aljibe was on holiday when he heard that government troops were again fighting the rebels. Within 24 hours, he was at the scene of the fighting, capturing these dramatic images of the unrest and its consequences.
Ben Johnson revisits scene of his 1988 doping scandal
On September 24, 1988, the Canadian Ben Johnson raced his longtime rival, Carl Lewis of the US, in the 100m final at the Seoul Olympics. It was easily the most anticipated race of the Games. Not only did Johnson beat Lewis, he smashed the world record, setting a time of 9.79 seconds. What came next, garnered even more headlines than the win: Johnson tested positive for stanozolol, a banned anabolic steroid, and was stripped of his medal.
Horror and heroism during one of Kenya's darkest days
Nairobi's Westgate mall, with its designer shops and restaurants, has become a symbol of Kenya's rising prosperity. On Saturday, September 21, it became the scene of one of the most chilling attacks in East Africa's history, claiming the lives of at least 69 people.
Nairobi-based AFPTV journalist Nichole Sobecki was the only television journalist able to gain access to the Westgate mall, just after the attack started. Here is her account of the horrific events.
Back to school, the world over
It’s a daily routine for millions of kids the world over: Grab your books, head off to school and sit in a classroom to study. With it being back-to-school season in many countries, AFP asked some of its photographers to capture images of school life across the world.
Here are some of the results, showing the similarities and discrepancies of school life for young students the world over.
When a “kill” increases life expectancy
The Internet has been abuzz, at least in France, ever since AFP transmitted this photo of French President Francois Hollande to clients on Tuesday, then quickly issued a “Mandatory Kill” order retracting it because it was deemed to be gratuitously unflattering to the president.
Immediately, AFP was accused of censorship and of having tried to suppress the photo on the direct order of the presidential office. This was not the case (otherwise we would not be republishing the image here.) Having said that, with the benefit of hindsight we see that the decision to retract the photo was clearly an error. AFP's Global News Director Philippe Massonnet describes what happened.
Firestorm: A photographer's journey
A gust of wind blasts embers, ash and smoke across a fire break during a wildfire in the northwest of Spain. The photo was taken by Pedro Armestre, an independent photographer who regularly contributes to AFP. He is the only photojournalist in Spain specialising in forest fires and his work over the past 11 years has taken him into the heart of some of the country's most violent blazes.
"Whenever I’m in the middle of a forest fire, it feels like the fire is a wild animal fleeing from a predator. It runs in one direction, then suddenly in another. It feigns movements to avoid the claws of the firefighters," he says.
"Welcome to Guantanamo Bay"
This is one of the chairs the US military uses to force feed hunger-striking prisoners at Guantanamo Bay. AFP's justice and security correspondent Chantal Valery this month visited the infamous military base to learn more about the feeding process that strikers say is agonizingly painful. (AFP Photo / Chantal Valery)
Prisoners of a presidential vacation
On August 10, US President Barack Obama and his family traveled to Martha’s Vineyard for a nine-day vacation. The White House press corps travel pool went along too, to cover the president as he golfed, ate dinner with his family – and reacted to global events including the violence across Egypt. Jim Watson, one of AFP’s five-member team of photographers covering the White House, put together this video showing what it’s like to go on holiday with the president.