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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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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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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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Keeping our distance

Monday 16 February 2015 - Eye witness

US President Barack Obama and German Chancellor Angela Merkel hold a joint press conference in the East Room of the White House in Washington, DC, February 9, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / SAUL LOEB)

"Photographers covering the White House have to deal with many restrictions on when and where we can snap the president," explains AFP photographer Saul Loeb. "For most events, we can only work in designated areas which provide little movement and not much choice in how we can take our photos. One of the ways we can supplement these angles and work around these restrictions is by placing remote cameras in locations where we ourselves cannot physically be - whether it be a high angle in the room, a spot behind the president's podium or somewhere alongside the stage."

(AFP Photo/ Saul Loeb)

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Eric Schwab, photographing the unspeakable

Friday 13 February 2015 - Decoding

A prisoner dying of dysentery at the Nazi concentration camp of Buchenwald upon the liberation of the camp by Allied troops on 11 April 1945 ( AFP PHOTO / ERIC SCHWAB)

"It comes down to a few dozen pictures by Eric Schwab, preserved in the Agence France-Presse archives," writes AFP's archives director Yves Gacon. "An insignificant number in a photographic fund of more than 30 million digital documents and seven million analog files. But whose value in historical terms is inestimable. One of the first photographers at the modern-day AFP, Eric Schwab was among the very first witnesses to the boundless horror that Allied forces uncovered as they advanced into Germany, liberating the death camps one after the other. Schwab formed a partnership with the American writer and journalist Meyer Levin, travelling together into the darkness on board their jeep 'Spirit of Alpena'. Both were on a painful quest, Levin to investigate the fate of Europe’s Jews in World War II, and Schwab to find his mother who was deported in 1943."

(AFP Photo / Eric Schwab)

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Flying bulls in Manhattan

Wednesday 21 January 2015 - Eye witness

Joao Ricardo Vieira rides the bull 'Fun Size' during the Professional Bull Riders (PBR) Monster Energy Buck off in New York on January 16, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/JEWEL SAMAD)

"I’ve worked for AFP for nearly 15 years, and I can say I’ve covered pretty much everything – but this was my first rodeo," writes AFP's Jewel Samad after covering the PBR 'Monster Energy Buck-Off', billed as a showdown between the best bull riders in the world. "I went there thinking it could make a nice little feature, but after the first few riders, I was hooked."

(AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)

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Human pinball in Las Vegas

Thursday 15 January 2015 - Eye witness

Attendees gesture in front of Intel's RealSense technology cameras to see 3D renditions of themselves, at the Consumer Electronics Show, January 8, 2015, in Las Vegas, Nevada (AFP PHOTO / ROBYN BECK)

"Ever heard of a hackathon ? It’s what you get when you lock a bunch of software whizzes in a room, deprive them of sleep for days at a stretch, and wait for visionary new ideas to emerge fully formed at the other end," writes AFP technology reporter Glenn Chapman. "It also sums up pretty neatly my own experience of covering CES -- the annual gadget and television extravaganza in Las Vegas, Nevada. The Consumer Electronics Show shares many of the basic ingredients of a hackathon - as a melting pot overflowing with gadgetry and concepts, out of which the technology world tries each year to pluck the Next Big Thing."

(AFP Photo / Robyn Beck)

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Open House at the CIA

Monday 15 December 2014 - Eye witness

The lobby of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Headquarters in Langley, Virginia (AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB)"The fresh-faced staff members scurried back and forth among the rows of chairs. They were clearly nervous," writes AFP's Pentagon reporter Dan De Luce, after covering the first ever live news conference held inside CIA headquarters -- as the spy agency scrambled to respond to revelations its operatives tortured Al-Qaeda suspects after the September 11 attacks.

(AFP Photo / Saul Loeb)

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The night Ferguson caught fire

Monday 15 December 2014 - Eye witness

US-CRIME-POLICE-RACE-UNRESTAFP video journalist Loic Hofstedt was in Ferguson, Missouri, on November 24, 2014, the night a grand jury decided not to press charges against the white police officer who shot dead Michael Brown, an unarmed black teenager. He was injured in the head as rioting broke out in anger at the verdict. "I was just doing my last shots, and I told myself I'm going to get the hell out of here. It happened in a second -- I knew immediately it was a brick because I could hear them flying all around me."

(AFP Photo /Jewel Samad)

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Musical discoveries on 1,300-band week

Wednesday 5 November 2014 - Debriefing

Bass player and vocals, Paula Cullen, of the Irish Band September Girls (AFP Photo / Don Emmert)

"I'm an obsessive music-lover, someone who would rather be at a concert than almost anywhere else (with a few exceptions)", writes New York-based reporter Shaun Tandon. "But even for me the five days of CMJ offer daunting choices".

CMJ is a 33-year-old annual institution in New York in which dozens of clubs across the city transform into testing grounds for up-and-coming (or hoping-to-be up-and-coming) bands that want to gain notice. Here are a few highlights that, in Shaun's opinion, stood out.

(AFP Photo / Don Emmert)

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Je t'aime : Kerry's love affair with France

Tuesday 21 October 2014 - Eye witness

Kerry arrives for a meeting at the Quai d’Orsay, the French Foreign Affairs ministry, on September 15, 2014 in Paris (AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)

Secretary of State John Kerry may be the champion-in-chief of American values abroad and who once ran to be US president, but who in his heart of hearts is constantly called back to Paris.

"Kerry's French roots run deep", writes AFP's State Department correspondent Jo Biddle. "His mother Rosemary Forbes was born in Paris in the 1920s and served as a nurse in the French capital during World War II (...) Once sneered at in America for being a fluent French speaker during his failed 2004 bid for the White House, the top US diplomat has been liberated in his new job, frequently chatting in French".

(AFP Photo / Brendan Smialowski)

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Chasing shadows: Kim and Kanye in France

Tuesday 3 June 2014 - Decoding

Kim Kardashian stands in front of a vehicule with a stroller as she leaves her hotel on May 23, 2014 in Paris (AFP / Kenzo Tribouillard)

More accustomed to covering riots, trials and drug stories in the Parisian suburbs than tracking VIPs, AFP reporters Estelle Emonet and Nathalie Alonso suddenly found themselves hunting for Kim Kardashian and Kanye West when speculation reached fever pitch that the celebrity couple would celebrate their wedding in France.

(Photo: AFP / Kenzo Tribouillard)

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Diplomacy on the fly: The Kerry-go-round

Tuesday 1 April 2014 - Behind the image

John Kerry waves while he boards his plane in Amman on March 27, 2014. (AFP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin/Pool)

"Life on the road with Kerry is a whirlwind of fast-changing schedules, nail-biting last minute decisions and complex logistics, requiring quick-thinking, immense wells of patience and above all flexibility from his loyal and dedicated staff," writes AFP's US State Department correspondent Jo Biddle. "But it's also a rare fly-on-the-wall privilege to witness diplomacy in the making, with an almost front-row seat as Kerry helms his own path into the foreign policy annals."

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Obama and the Night Watch

Tuesday 25 March 2014 - Behind the image

US President Barack Obama speaks in front of Rembrandt's masterpiece "The Night Watch

News conferences with the US president don't normally get attention because of the backdrop, but when Obama met with Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte this week in front of one of the world's most famous paintings, photographers had a little fun.

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Lavrov steals some limelight from Kerry

Sunday 15 September 2013 - Eye witness

Detail of cartoon portrait of Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov done by  Fox News television correspondent James Rosen.

"For almost two hours we'd been waiting for US Secretary of State John Kerry and his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov to reveal whether they had a deal on Syria's chemical weapons," reports AFP's Jo Biddle. "And then in one extraordinary moment, Lavrov slipped unannounced into the back of a ballroom in a Geneva hotel where the world's press was camped out Saturday and stole a bit of thunder from his 'good friend' Kerry."

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"Welcome to Guantanamo Bay"

Wednesday 28 August 2013 - Behind the image

A feeding chair in Guantanamo. August 7, 2013. AFP Photo / Chantal Valery

"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)

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Marijuana on my mind

Friday 12 July 2013 - Eye witness

Marijuana plants grow at Perennial Holistic Wellness Center, a not-for-profit medical marijuana dispensary in operation since 2006, on September 7, 2012 in Los Angeles.

The Paris-based editor of AFP's Correspondent blog, Marlowe Hood, took advantage of a recent trip to his native Los Angeles to investigate -- first-hand -- the city's rapidly evolving (and confusing) medical marijuana scene. (AFP Photo/David McNew/Getty Images)

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Whirlwind peace drive: Kerry in job of his life

Sunday 7 July 2013 - Decoding

US Secretary of State John Kerry makes a statement to the press regarding his meeting with Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov at the US Embassy in Bandar Seri Begawan on July 2, 2013.

AFP's Washington-based Shaun Tandon tagged along with John Kerry on the US Secretary of State's most recent road trip, this one to the Middle East and Southeast Asia. Watching Kerry in action makes one wonder: has the former presidential hopeful found his true calling? (AFP Photo/pool/Jacquelyn Martin)

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