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Tuesday 28 July 2015

Dreams crushed by a beast

A migrant runs to catch a train in the Chacamax community, Chiapas State, Mexico, on June 21, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/ALFREDO ESTRELLA) A migrant runs to catch a train in the Chacamax community, Chiapas State, Mexico, on June 21, 2015 (AFP PHOTO/ALFREDO ESTRELLA)

(AFP Photo / Alfredo Estrella)


"It is 35 degrees out, and the humidity is close to 100 percent. We are tracking a freight train known as “La Bestia” (The Beast), as it rumbles from the southern border of Mexico towards the United States," writes Daphné Lemelin. "This train is part of the history of migration. Hundreds of thousands have ridden it in pursuit of their American dream. Many have been attacked, robbed, mutilated or even killed in the process."

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Wednesday 8 July 2015

Patience an acquired virtue at Iran talks

Journalists gather outside the Palais Coburg Hotel where the Iran nuclear talks meetings are being held in Vienna, Austria on July 2, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR) Journalists gather outside the Palais Coburg Hotel where the Iran nuclear talks meetings are being held in Vienna, Austria on July 2, 2015. (AFP PHOTO / JOE KLAMAR)

(AFP Photo / Joe Klamar)

"In the frenetic, 24-hour news cycle world of instant messaging, Tweets, Snapchats and texts, patience has almost become an outmoded, lost virtue," writes AFP's Jo Biddle. "But for 12 days now, more than 500 accredited journalists gathered in Vienna for the last stages of the talks to curb Iran's nuclear programme have become experts in killing time."

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Friday 26 June 2015

Hostages for sale in Syria

A Free Syrian army's fighter gestures asking drivers to slow down to prevent accidents on September 13, 2013 in the outskirts of Saraqib, southwest of Aleppo. (AFP PHOTO / GIOVANNI DIFFIDENTI) A Free Syrian army's fighter gestures asking drivers to slow down to prevent accidents on September 13, 2013 in the outskirts of Saraqib, southwest of Aleppo. (AFP PHOTO / GIOVANNI DIFFIDENTI)

(AFP Photo / Giovanni Diffidenti)

"Pierre Piccinin da Prata describes himself as a historian and political scientist, but his work is more like a war reporter’s," writes Robin Braquet. "The Belgian researcher has travelled to Syria more than a dozen times. On one occasion, he almost didn’t make it home. In 2013, he was betrayed by a faction of the rebel Free Syrian Army and handed over to a group of hostage-takers."

"The FSA are portrayed in the West as Syria’s moderate rebels, opposed to both President Bashar al-Assad and the Islamic State group. Yet some of the group’s members are now known to have sold hostages to the jihadists, enticed by the high price offered for a captive Westerner."

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Friday 12 June 2015

Flight 847, into the hell of Beirut

One of two heavily-armed Lebanese Shiite militants, his face hidden with a bag, who hijacked a TWA passenger Boeing 727 aircraft, looks out from the door of the jetliner on June 20, 1985 at Beirut airport (AFP PHOTO/JOEL ROBINE) One of two heavily-armed Lebanese Shiite militants, his face hidden with a bag, who hijacked a TWA passenger Boeing 727 aircraft, looks out from the door of the jetliner on June 20, 1985 at Beirut airport (AFP PHOTO/JOEL ROBINE)

(AFP Photo / Joel Robine)


"On Friday June 14, 1985, Flight 847 of the US carrier TWA was travelling between Athens and Rome with eight crew and 145 passengers on board when it was diverted towards Beirut airport, opening one of the longest hijacking crises in aviation history," writes AFP's Patrick Rahir.

"Three days earlier I had watched three hijackers blow up a Boeing at Beirut airport. A day later a young Palestinian threatened to set off a hand grenade on a flight from Beirut to Cyprus. At first I thought it was a joke. Another hijacking, this time of an American plane?"

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Tuesday 26 May 2015

‘Journalist scum’ and the Cannes glitterati

A photo taken with a mobile phone shows a woman distributing the local newspaper's festival edition outside the Festival palace during the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 14, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE) A photo taken with a mobile phone shows a woman distributing the local newspaper's festival edition outside the Festival palace during the 68th Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southeastern France, on May 14, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / VALERY HACHE)

(AFP / Valery Hache)


"Two floors above us is an impossible level of glamour, people of such mind-bending charisma that the mere sight of them walking on carpet can set off a frenzy of shutter clicks and hysterical screaming," writes Eric Randolph, fresh from covering the 68th Cannes Film Festival on the French Riviera. "But pan down through the floors into the basement, and things are decidedly less glamorous."

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Monday 20 April 2015

Backstories: the photographer and the map

US marines officers from the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines are briefed about their initial mission in the event of a strike against Iraq, 13 March 2003 in Camp Shoup in northern of Kuwait. (AFP PHOTO/ERIC FEFERBERG)
US marines officers from the 2nd Battalion 8th Marines are briefed about their initial mission in the event of a strike against Iraq, 13 March 2003 in Camp Shoup in northern of Kuwait. (AFP PHOTO/ERIC FEFERBERG)

(AFP Photo / Eric Feferberg)


In Backstories, a new video series by Laurent Kalfala and Sylvain Estibal, AFP journalists take us behind the scenes of a powerful moment in their career.

For the first installment, Eric Feferberg tells the extraordinary tale of this picture, taken on March 13, 2003 in a US military camp in Kuwait where 130,000 troops were preparing to invade Iraq. Invited to photograph this officers' briefing - and the top-secret map in the background - he had little idea of the storm that would ensue.

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Thursday 2 April 2015

Waiting game on a Swiss lake

US Secretary of State John Kerry looks out of the window of his room at the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel during a break in Iran nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 1, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI) US Secretary of State John Kerry looks out of the window of his room at the Beau-Rivage Palace hotel during a break in Iran nuclear talks in Lausanne, Switzerland, on April 1, 2015 (AFP PHOTO / FABRICE COFFRINI)

(AFP Photo / Fabrice Coffrini)


"For the past week I have been with US Secretary of State John Kerry in Switzerland in the marathon search for a nuclear deal with Iran," writes AFP photographer Brendan Smialowski. "Covering negotiations like these is as much about official photo ops as behind-the-scenes moments and features. As the negotiations dragged on, the ops got fewer and fewer, then dried up completely. But a photojournalist can go hunting for other moments to illustrate the story."

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Tuesday 31 March 2015

Twitter and news agencies: BFF or frenemies?

A Brazil fan uses a mobile phone prior to the third place play-off football match between Brazil and Netherlands during the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the National Stadium in Brasilia on July 12, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN) A Brazil fan uses a mobile phone prior to the third place play-off football match between Brazil and Netherlands during the 2014 FIFA World Cup at the National Stadium in Brasilia on July 12, 2014. (AFP PHOTO / ODD ANDERSEN)

(AFP Photo / Odd Andersen)


"A lot of (mostly virtual) ink has been spilt on the looming threat of Twitter to so-called ‘legacy’ news media," writes AFP journalist Marlowe Hood. "Agencies such as AFP, Reuters and the Associated Press (AP) – global wholesalers that gather and sell content to other media – were said to be especially vulnerable to the 500+ million mini-messages that course through Twitter every day, blanketing the planet on every subject imaginable."

"This is the story of how Agence France-Presse and Twitter tied the knot, paving the way for AFP to make and market a novel news service situated somewhere near the crossroads of Social Network Ave. and News Agency Blvd."

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Friday 20 March 2015

Dusk in the Arctic morning

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

(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.

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Wednesday 18 March 2015

A roach with your ceviche?

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) 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)

(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."

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Monday 16 March 2015

The day everything bright turned black

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

(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."

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Friday 13 March 2015

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

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) 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)

(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."

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Monday 23 February 2015

11 Days on Planet Cinema

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) 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)

(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."

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Monday 16 February 2015

Keeping our distance

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) 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)

(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."

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Friday 13 February 2015

Eric Schwab, photographing the unspeakable

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) 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)

(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."

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Wednesday 21 January 2015

Flying bulls in Manhattan

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) 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)

(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."

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Thursday 15 January 2015

Human pinball in Las Vegas

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) 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)

(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."

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Monday 15 December 2014

Open House at the CIA

The lobby of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Headquarters in Langley, Virginia (AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB) The lobby of the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Headquarters in Langley, Virginia (AFP PHOTO/SAUL LOEB)

(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.

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The night Ferguson caught fire

US-CRIME-POLICE-RACE-UNREST US-CRIME-POLICE-RACE-UNREST

(AFP Photo / Jewel Samad)


AFP 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."

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Wednesday 5 November 2014

Musical discoveries on 1,300-band week

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

(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.

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