Friday, 16 March 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East & Africa March 16, 2018

I have included two pictures from Omar Sanadiki as they have thrown up a conflict in my mind. Is the picture of the sleeping baby in the suitcase too ‘cute’ to portray what is going on in Syria? Or does it humanise a situation that many have become visually numb to, to the extent that you can just gloss over pictures like the one of people fleeing seen below.

A child sleeps in a bag in the village of Beit Sawa, eastern Ghouta, Syria March 15, 2018.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki 

People walk with their belongings as they flee the rebel-held town of Hammouriyeh, in the village of Beit Sawa, eastern Ghouta, Syria March 15, 2018.   REUTERS/Omar Sanadiki

The cold, quiet expression on the faces of the children in Bassam Khabieh’s picture really haunts me. Maybe it’s the mixture of the reflections in the dirty glass which slightly distort their features, the distant look in the eyes of the children, left and right, or my attention being held by the stare by the girl in the middle.

Children look through a bus window during evacuation from the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria march 13, 2018.   REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

A slightly surreal vision of a man driving sheep through destroyed streets,  photographed by Bassam Khabieh, caught my eye this week. It’s a quiet image, but a scene that I’d expect to see in the countryside and not in the rubble of a war-torn town.  

A man walks with a herd of sheep in the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, in Damascus, Syria March 11, 2018.   REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh 

Okay, another secret is out. I do like cricket and like good pictures of cricket even more. Mike Hutchings’ image of batsman AB de Villiers attacking the ball is full of tension. Everything is just about to happen, the whole image is moving from left to right. De Villiers’ foot is just an inch off the ground, his arms and legs are in classic action forming strong triangles, and all eyes on the ball as the bat is swung to drive it away. Mike has chosen his place to sit carefully as the background is clean, highlighting the action. 

South Africa’s AB de Villiers in action during the Second test again against Australia in St George’s park, Port Elizabeth, South Africa march 12, 2018.   REUTERS/Mike Hutchings

Like an Aladdin’s cave of treasure I am drawn into Mohamed Abd El Ghany’s wonderfully busy, noisy, hot, glittering picture of a market in Cairo. You can smell the spices and feel the heat of the night and crush of people. Your eye darts about, looking for a place to settle, without finding a single focal point. Just like in busy markets anywhere is the world, you don’t know where to look next. 

People shop at Al Ataba, a popular market in central Cairo, Egypt, march 13, 2018.   REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany

These boys are using tablets to learn, although perhaps not what Steve Jobs would have liked them to use. I hope that you enjoy Ayman al-Sahili’s warm and affectionate picture as much as I do. Not only is it a well-composed picture, I just love all those triangle shapes, it conveys a warm sense of boys having fun and learning.  

Boys use large wooden plants as they memorize Islam’s holy Koran in Misrata, Libya March 13, 2018.  REUTERS/Ayman al-Sahili

I think the pelican is a strange-looking bird. So take a pelican from its natural habitat at the water’s edge to a poor housing area. Add to the scene a boy playing with it and another playing a flute-like instrument only just encroaching into the left hand side of the frame. Throw in splashes of primary colour, red yellow and blue. And, as a final element add photographer Zohra Bensemra and her magical ability to capture moments and you end up with a beautiful and intriguing picture.

A boy plays with pelican in Yoff commune in Dakar, Senegal, March 14, 2018. REUTERS/Zohra Bensemra

Sheer joy sums up what I feel about Olivia Acland’s picture. What creates this joy? To me it’s the man’s face is alight with expression and highlighted detail; perfect white teeth and catch light in his eyes, cheeks and chin line with a background of a sea of hands going up in celebration. 

People gesture as they show their support for the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) Party outside the party’s headquarters in Freetown, Sierra Leone, March 13, 2018.  REUTERS/Olivia Acland

Saturday, 10 March 2018

A Week in Pictures Middle East & Africa March 9, 2018

By the look on the faces of the people on the edges of in Olivia Acland’s picture, they are
all thinking about the conversation between the two central figures must have had before
attending the election rally. “I’ve got a good idea. Let’s get naked except for our
underwear and long coloured socks, paint our bodies white and red and go to the rally.” It
seems that no-one else got the mail with the dress code in it. A wonderful bizarre moment
and all respect from me for the individuality on display.

Supporters of the ruling All Peoples Congress (APC) party arrive to attend a rally ahead of the March 7 presidential election in Makeni, Sierra Leone March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Olivia Acland

Mohamed Abd El Ghany captures a protesting soccer fan in mid-stride, holding a flare aloft and looking like an Olympic torch bearer. What I really like about this picture is the clean design. Yes, it could be said that he got lucky: there are no other people to complicate the scene, the background figures seem to run along with him, and the curl of smoke is perfect. What is important is that the figure is at full stretch with his arms raised. You need to be both lucky and good to capture this.

An Egypt's Al Ahly fan shouts slogans against the Interior Ministry whilst running with a flare during the Al Ahly v Gabon's CF Mounana CAF African Champions League match in Cairo, Egypt, March 6, 2018.  REUTERS/Mohamed Abd El Ghany 

Photographer Bassam Khabieh is trapped in Douma, eastern Ghouta, and when he considers it safe enough he files pictures of the latest news. Today, a Syrian Arab Red Crescent aid relief convoy arrived with much-needed emergency supplies.  What to me is so striking about this picture is the sombre mood. All colour is drained from the image, even the reds of the crescent logos. There are no crowds, no children, just trucks being watched moving slowly through destroyed buildings. 

Civil defence members sit amid the rubble as they watch an aid convoy of Syrian Arab Red Crescent driving through the besieged town of Douma, Eastern Ghouta, Damascus, Syria March 5, 2018. REUTERS/Bassam Khabieh

I can’t help feeling a little sad at the size of the task facing the soldier clearing mines in Aziz El Yaakoubi’s picture. The flat, featureless landscape seems to stretch to infinity. This space, and the danger of the task, have been cleverly accentuated by the heavy crop of the second soldier, who wisely seems to be keeping well away 

A member of the UAE armed forces secures an area while searching for landmines in Al-Mokha, Yemen March 6, 2018. Picture taken March 6, 2018. Reuters/ Aziz El Yaakoubi

What makes Anne Mimault’s picture a pick for the week is the powerful graphic shape of the man digging a grave in a fog of yellow dust that seems to be reaching up to choke the onlookers. The man on the left is casually looking back at the hard work being carried out, while at the same time the shape of his body frames the image.

People take part in a burial ceremony of the armed forces members who were killed during Friday's attack by Islamist militants in the capital Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Anne Mimault

The strong shadows in Hayam Adel’s dark portrait cut across the picture in a complex abstract composition and almost hide Esraa from view. The sombre mood echoes Egypt’s struggle to end FGM. The full, powerful story published on International Women’s Day can be seen here

Esraa Salah, 15, poses for a photograph outside her home in Alwasata village of Assiut Governorate, south of Cairo, Egypt, February 8, 2018. Picture taken February 8, 2018. REUTERS/Hayam Adel

An affectionate picture by Faisal al-Nasser, taken early on International Women’s Day in Saudi Arabia. I can’t help but wonder what is going through the man’s mind as a group of women jog past his shop. The back story here is that Faisal took over this assignment from our Saudi Arabian woman photographer, Reem Baeshen, who was sick and whom we wish well. I have added a second picture by Faisal as I love its simplicity.  The light catches three key elements: the lower left quarter of the woman’s smiling face, the determined hand gripping the steering wheel, and the rear-view mirror. A full selection of picture from IWD from around the world can be seen here

Women run during an event marking International Women's Day in Old Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

A Saudi woman sits in a car during a driving training at a university in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia March 7, 2018. REUTERS/Faisal Al Nasser

It takes a while to make visual sense of Mohamed al-Sayaghi’s picture. Your eye darts about, looking at the splashes of colour, the blue sky and then the yellow, red and orange in the foreground. Your eye then settles on the destroyed building and finally on the three women struggling across the rubble with their water containers.

People carry water tanks as they walk at the site of damage after a Saudi-led air strike, north of Yemen's capital Sanaa, March 8, 2018. REUTERS/Mohamed al-Sayaghi