AFP Photo/Behrouz Mehri
Photo diary: a sister battles breast cancer
Between February and April, photographer Behrouz Mehri from AFP’s Tehran bureau documented his sister’s battle against terminal breast cancer. “My goal was to document the extraordinary hardships this disease inflicts on both patient and family,” he told bureau chief Cyril Julien, who explains here the story behind the pictures. Fair warning: some of the images show painful and personal moments.
AFP Photo/Joe Klamar
Viva Lucha VaVOOM!
"Most events nowadays – especially in L.A., where I am based – limit photographer access and impose restrictions on what we can do. Not a lot of fun," says AFP photographer Joe Klamar. "But 'Lucha VaVOOM' – a no-holds-barred Cinco de Mayo festival with Mexican roots featuring masked wrestlers, comedy routines and striptease – is exactly the opposite: a welcoming atmosphere and unfettered creative freedom."
AFP Photo/Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images
Armstrong: The Bernie Madoff of sport
"Armstrong cheated the Tour de France, the fans, the media, all those who believed his performances were for real and, worst of all, he betrayed his sport." So writes former Tour de France director Jean-Marie Leblanc in a new book, published this week, on the event he oversaw from 1989 to 2005. "He will go down as the Bernard Madoff of sport."
Syria offers grim bounty for photojournalists
As Syria’s conflict enters its third year, the country’s demolished cityscapes and bloodied population continue to provide a lamentably rich tableau for photographers. And while it may seem strange to laud images of destruction and suffering, photojournalism awards can also serve to keep important issues in the public eye.
AFP Photo/Javier Manzano
A Pulitzer picture first day on the job
“Javier Manzano took this masterpiece of a rebel sniper in Aleppo, Syria, along with three other stunning images we moved on AFP’s photo wire, on his first day working with the agency,” recalls AFP’s Deputy Photo Director for the Middle East and North Africa Hasan Mroue, who validated the photos. “Another colleague was with me when we chose them, and we both could see that this was winning material of superior artistic skill besides its news worthiness and the courage it takes to be in such a dangerous spot.”
AFP Photo/Louai Beshara
Carnage in the heart of Damascus
"It was an ordinary day in Damascus: we woke up to the sound of bombs falling on not-so-distant suburb, and then dropped our kids off at school without the comforting certainty that we would see them again," reports AFP photographer Louai Bachara, based in the Syrian capital. "It has been like that for almost a year now. A few days earlier, a technician in the AFP bureau was injured when a bomb exploded near his car." Things were about to get a lot worse.
AFP Photo/Mohammed al-Shahed
Fiery clashes in Cairo
After clashes between Muslims and members of Egypt’s Christian Copt minority left at least seven dead last week, these two young Copts were targeted Sunday outside St. Mark’s cathedral in Cairo’s Abbassiya district by unknown assailants wielding Molotov cocktails. AFP photographer Mohammed al-Shahed was on the scene.
AFP Photo/Fred Dufour
Femen gets a kick in the pants (but not on Facebook)
Rarely a week goes by without a Femen protest somewhere in world. Originating in Ukraine five years ago, the expanding network of feminist activists bare their breasts – often inscribed with slogans – to champion women’s rights or decry corruption and what they see as repressive religious institutions and dogma. This week, the Grand Mosque of Paris was on their hit list. The AFP photo above circulated widely on the Internet, generating a lot of 'shares' and comments on AFP's French-language Facebook page. Until, that is, Facebook yanked it.
AFP Photo/Gabriel Bouys
New pope sheds old habits
He enjoys impromptu walkabouts in crowds, has visited a detention centre to wash inmates’ feet, and refuses to wear the papacy’s trademark red shoes. Since his election on March 13, Pope Francis has broken taboo after taboo – and become a dream subject for photographers. “We’re going to get some great images of him, that’s for sure,” predicts Rome AFP photographer Vincenzo Pinto
Detecting North Korea’s doctored photos
North Korea has launched a full-scale propaganda offensive in recent weeks, churning out sabre-rattling pictures and videos – distributed to global media – of daunting military hardware and soldiers enacting mock invasions. But there’s a problem: some of these images have been doctored. Blog editor Roland de Courson explains how AFP uses forensic software to ferret out fake photos.
North Korea goes ballistic
Nobody would call North Korean propaganda understated. For decades it has pumped out inflammatory attacks on US "imperialists" and their "scum puppets" in South Korea. Several years ago, its efforts went multi-media with a new video format which, in the past few months, has come up with a series of products that have taken the anti-US invective to new heights. (screen grab from North Korean video)
AFP Photo/K. Tribouillard
Desert patrol: Tracking Islamists in Mali
"Scorching heat from above (the sun) and below (stones); black rocks so jagged they rip the military apparel on the soldiers with whom I am embedded; soot-like sand so invasive it sears my eyes and jams their guns; an enemy – never visible, always nearby – hell-bent on carrying out a holy war." This is how AFP photographer Kenzo Tribouillard describes the mountainous region along the Mali-Algeria border where he followed French troops tracking Islamist fighters. Here are his photos, and his report.
A sea of fake medicine
Pharmaceutical experts point to China as the largest source of counterfeit drugs sold around the world, but consumers within China are also vulnerable. Illicit trade in bogus drugs is estimated to be worth around 75 billion USD globally, with criminal gangs increasingly using the Web to move products across borders.
AFP Photo/Alberto Pizzoli
And the smoke is… white
They came from Australia, Japan or Brazil to do one thing -- train their eyes on a chimney pipe attached to the roof of the Sistine Chapel to see if the smoke would be white. In a rain-swept St. Peter's Square, tens of thousands of people waited on Wednesday for the sign that 115 cardinals meeting inside the chapel had chosen a successor to Pope Benedict XVI. The crowd remained optimistic despite the charcoal grey puffs on the two previous days. "It's going to be white smoke tonight, I'm sure of it!" said Maltese priest Clive Camilleri. And so it was. At exactly 18:08 GMT, cloud-like swirls billowed from the chimney as the great bells of St Peter's basilica began to ring. An hour later his identity was revealed: Argentina's Jorge Bergoglio, henceforth to be known as Pope Francis I.
AFP Photo/Jiji/T. Yamanaka/T. Kitamura
Tsunami: March 2011, 2012, 2013...
"Returning two years later to the areas worst hit by the tsunami, I was shocked to see how slow the pace of reconstruction has been," reports AFP photgrapher Toshifumi Kitamura, who went back earlier this month to the same spots he had photographed in 2011 and then a year later. "In Kesennuma, I suddenly remembered the fear I felt two years ago: had I been here when the cataclysm struck, I almost certainly would have died."
AFP Photo/Josep Lago
Photography + ? = Journalism
Photojournalists will sometimes say of a picture that it is more ‘photography’ than ‘journalism’, by which they mean, it seems, that the image has an inherent, stand-alone quality even when shorn of a specific news context. In other words, it’s just a good pic. So what is it, exactly, that determines when a photo becomes journalism? (AFP Photo/Josep Lago)
AFP Photo/Ed Jones
A gay marriage in Beijing (not)
When two young Chinese women -- lesbians but not a couple -- decided to apply for a marriage license in Beijing as an act of protest, AFP photographer Ed Jones was on hand to bear witness. There was no rice or wedding bells, and the marriage certificate was a fake, but the message came through loud and clear.
AFP Photo/Patrick Baz
Hipstamatic: too hip for photojournalism?
A tsunami of digital technology has reconfigured the news media landscape in more ways than one, eroding once solid firewalls between professionals and citizens, blogs and newspapers, fact and opinion. Boundaries have shifted in photojournalism too, with smart phones and digital apps moving from the margins toward the heart of the profession. What’s a news agency to do?
Joy in Baghdad
For AFP photographer Patrick Baz, "Baghdad" -- which he first visited in 1998, when Saddam Hussein still lorded over his people with a blood-stained iron first -- had always rhymed with war, bloodshed, heartache. He was there during the US invasion in 2003, and made many reporting trips thereafter, the last in 2009. Little changed. But earlier this month Baz, now head of photo for the Middle East and North Africa, went back. What a difference four years can make.
Bolt from the blue after pope resigns
Hours after Pope Benedict XVI stunned the world by announcing he would resign at the end of the month, a blinding shaft of lightning shot down from the heavens and struck the rod atop the white cross on St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Imagine the odds. But here’s where it gets even more Twilight Zone: At that precise moment, AFP photographer Filippo Monteforte – his camera already trained on the Basilica’s cupola – pushed the button that yielded the image above. A miracle? Not quite...
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