Each week our pictures make front covers of magazines and newspapers around the globe. In this series, we ask the photographers for the story behind their leading shots.
Germany was celebrating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall over the weekend, and the events culminated in a spectacular show at the Brandenburg Gate.
The highlight was a light installation in which 6,800 balloons were tethered to lamps along a 15km route that the Berlin Wall once occupied zigzagging right through the middle of the city. Built in 1961 by the communist authorities of East Berlin, the Wall prevented East Germans from fleeing west and at least 136 people died while trying to escape until the Wall opened up in 1989 following mass protests and the erosion of communist authority.
The balloons were meant to represent the Wall, and in a domino-like sequence they were going to be released into the air as a symbolic way to illustrate the Wall’s dissolution. The release was of course going to be the main picture, and I was a bit nervous because I knew that the balloons would rise fast and that I would only have a few seconds to get a strong image. I stood on a press podium opposite the Brandenburg Gate with one camera coupled to a remote trigger on a tripod and a second camera in my hands. Of course, there were plenty of other photographers on that podium, many of whom had set up remote cameras on a tree-like structure behind me.
Why did my picture get such good play? I think it came down to three factors: I had a central spot from which to shoot, I had a fast internet connection and I had a simple set up, meaning I had full control of the camera’s functions and a streamlined procedure for moving the pictures. I would be sending via “direct ingest,” meaning my pictures would go directly to clients and not even go through the Getty Images London desk. This was an evening event; hence deadlines were tight and plenty of newspapers would go with the first strong image that arrived. The balloons went up; I shot about a dozen frames, and within two minutes I had a first set of photos out to clients. And bingo, four German newspaper fronts the next day!
See more pictures from the anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall