As we release our Year in Focus e-book highlighting the best photography from 2014, we ask our experts across the business for their personal selection from the year.
Hugh Pinney, Vice President of News in EMEA has selected ten frames that highlight big news moments in 2014:
Oscar Pistorius by Charlie Shoemaker
Oscar Pistorius escorted from court on the day he was found guilty of culpable homicide. This court case has dominated the news it would seem for almost the whole year, and has divided bodies of opinion on his guilt, innocence, mental state and the South African Justice System as a whole. Pistorius himself has been seen as highly emotional in court, at times reduced to tears or being physically sick as the events of the night in question were raked over.
Outside court, however, he has faced the media barrage with the stoic steeliness that undoubtedly underpinned his athletic career. Here he is, a guilty man, surrounded by police, TV crews and photographers, seemingly oblivious to them all.
Liberia Battles Spreading Ebola by John Moore
John Moore was one of the early wave of photographers to cover the Ebola story in Liberia. This image where a wife watches helpless as her infected husband collapses, was the first image which made me (and I think many, many more people) really sit up and take proper note of this story. At this stage of events, this was an isolation centre – a school room. Volunteers collecting bodies were wearing plastic bags on their heads as protection, and relatives were breaking into isolation centres to “release” infected patients back into the community. This was exactly the point where it became apparent that the rest of the world had massively undercooked the scale of this problem, and that we, (meaning everyone) had to get involved to avoid an absolute catastrophe. This set of images from John is one of the very few that I genuinely feel helped to shape world opinion, and possibly affect the outcome. This scene is what made the Western World realize that this is not just a West African problem.
Tonight’s No Supermoon, But Close by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno
Everyone loves a super-moon, but this is brilliantly shot by Gonzalo. To get the moon that big against the towers means that you have shoot it from a seriously long way away on a seriously long lens. Finding that location with an absolutely clear line of sight is one challenge, then he had to line it up so the moon was rising exactly between the two central towers. If someone could have persuaded the office workers in those towers to leave a few more lights on, it might have been even more impressive. Just a stunning, really well executed image.
Conflict by Bulent Kilic
AFP photographer Bulent Kilic has had an amazing year from the battle lines in Kiev to the chaos of the war against ISIS in Syria and Iraq. I could have chosen one of a number of different images by him, but this one striking picture seems to sum up the ridiculous complexity of the situation still unfolding on the Turkish/Syrian border. An elderly Syrian Kurdish woman, who has fled her home because of the threat from Islamic State militants, is chased down by a Turkish water canon in the middle of a vast empty plain. The image is extraordinary in itself, the political and diplomatic mess it represents even more so.
Air Malaysia Passenger Jet Crashes in Eastern Ukraine by Pierre Crom
One of the most shocking single news events of the year, the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines Flight 17 over Ukraine. The fact that the wreckage is still burning gives this image immediacy and is what adds power to it. At this stage, very few had really taken on board what had happened – this image gives a clear view of the scale of the devastation, and the fact that no-one was likely to have survived. In subsequent days, journalists would discover bodies and belongings scattered over a huge area; holiday clothing, soft toys, suitcases. These were civilans, innocents, people totally disconnected from anything going on in Ukraine killed through an act of stupidity.
Conflict in Gaza by Roberto Schmidt
Another AFP photographer that has had an amazing year, Roberto Schmidt produced particularly amazing work from Gaza during the conflict with Israel this year. This is one instance from several I could have chosen, but for me it highlights the basic maxim that a key skill of a photojournalist is to be in the right place at the right time. This sequence that is stunning in its own right also graphically indicates just how fine the line can be between the right place and the wrong place. It shows exactly what it is like to live under an Israeli bombardment, but it also gives an insight into the judgement every news gatherer in these situations has to make.
Violence Escalates as Kiev Protest Continue by Alexander Koerner
Also in Ukraine – this was shot more or less at the height of the standoff between Ukrainian police and protesters in Kiev. I could have chosen one of many images here as the whole scenario became incredibly visual as Maidan Square turned into something from a Mad Max film set. Clouds of black smoke, dirty white snow, stained faces, steam-punk outfits, and makeshift militias – this image captures the scale, the chaos and the visceral energy of the protest as a whole. It does have a distinctly apocalyptic feel to it.
Tensions Remain High at Israeli Gaza Border by Ilia Yefimovich
Continuing a theme of finding beauty within conflict, the combination of gun smoke and dust raised, coupled with the backlight of a low morning sun, gives a deceiving tranquility to this image of a heavy artillery piece firing from Israel into Gaza during the six-week cross-border exchange.
D-Day by Peter Macdiarmid
Just one of a much bigger series researched and executed by Peter Macdiarmid around the anniversaries of the First World War and D-Day in 2014. He dug through our archive to find historical images in locations that remain identifiable today, and revisited the scenes, replicating the photos from 100 or 70 years ago respectively. As an exercise, it is relatively simple to achieve a certain level of success – what makes these combination of images simply stunning is the level of detail observed by Peter. He has had to work out exactly the focal length of the lens used by the original photographer, and stand in the exact spot where these men witnessed historical events unfolding. In some cases, he has located the exact spot and then waited to get the tide at exactly the right level, or indeed to have the wave breaking in the same location to marry the images perfectly.
Again, I could have chosen one of several images, but what I particularly like about this image of troops waiting to cross the channel from Weymouth is firstly that it is in colour, but also the fact that in the background, the Weymouth lifeboat is moored in the very same mooring in the original and the current day, providing an even more tangible connection with history.
Pamplona Running of the Bulls by Pablo Blazquez Dominguez
The running of the bulls in Pamplona is a hardy annual. A visual feast that has been photographed within an inch of its life year after year. Bulls rounding corners, remote cameras, overviews, ground level views, participant’s eye views – I thought I had seen it all. Hence an image of the event from a new angle which gives it scale, context, and absolutely fills every inch of the frame with information is amazing and earns its place in my favourites of 2014.
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