“James lay outside the centre for hours, on the dirt, underneath a makeshift shelter before medical staff came out after Edward had to beg for assistance.”
2014 has been another strong year for our team of industry-leading Reportage photographers, who produced some truly outstanding work. Between them, they covered key events such as the devastating Ebola virus in West Africa, conflict in Ukraine, political unrest in Venezuela, the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall, the rapid expansion of the Islamic State’s presence in Iraq and the Kurdish resistance, the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi and protests in Ferguson and Missouri after the police shooting of Michael Brown.
They also documented lesser known stories, including cultural traditions and modern-day social issues amongst Inuit communities, civilian emergency response crews in Syria, migrants risking their lives to reach European shores, Syrian refugees who have fled their country, the satellite manufacturing industry, and simple but life-changing surgery for children in rural India born with congenital cataract blindness, while also gaining exclusive access inside the world of politics with the likes of US Republican Senator Rand Paul, a potential 2016 US presidential candidate.
The Reportage team also undertook our first truly group project, documenting the legacy of cluster munitions and unexploded remnants of war. Commissioned by the ICRC, 5 photographers visited 5 continents to document how widespread this issue is and how much work remains to be done to resolve it.
One of the most powerful bodies of work I have ever seen was produced this year by Daniel Berehulak in Liberia, as he spent in excess of 60 consecutive days working non-stop on assignment for The New York Times under incredibly difficult physically and psychologically conditions documenting the Ebola crisis. The work he produced is, in my opinion, the definitive project on this subject.
As a father of a young son myself, I found one series of images within the work particularly emotive and arresting. On September 5th, Daniel came across a man named Edward Dorbor in Monrovia who was desperately tending to his 8-year-old son James, as they waited for him to be submitted to the JFK Ebola treatment centre. James lay outside the centre for hours, on the dirt, underneath a makeshift shelter, before medical staff came out after Edward had to beg for assistance.
According to health officials, James passed away shortly after being admitted that same day. The image I have singled out is one of total desperation. We see a father trying to keep his son alive through any means possible and with no assistance, putting himself at serious risk of catching the deadly virus. A jagged shaft of light bisects the image, lighting the stricken young boy’s face and feet, as though originating from the heavens above. I greatly admire Daniel’s ability to find the strength to do this work, and to be able to focus on the task at hand of showing the world the true horror that this viral outbreak has brought to the communities affected, through his photography.
In late May this year, we added Sebastiano Tomada to our main Reportage group. Sebastian is a very versatile photographer whose work in Syria had particularly caught our attention. I have chosen to highlight here an image that he shot recently in Ferguson, Missouri of Lesley McSpadden, the mother of Michael Brown, as she reacted to the news that the St. Louis County grand jury had decided to not indict Ferguson police Officer Darren Wilson for the shooting of her son Michael Brown. Sebastiano was perfectly placed to catch this moment as she demonstrates a mother’s grief, tears rolling down her cheeks, mouth agape, comforted by those close to her. The positioning of the group in the centre of shot, and the light illuminating them makes this one of the most memorable images I have seen this year from the many months of reporting on this story.
Another photographer of great note who we are proud to have added to our roster in 2014 is Lynsey Addario. Year after year, Lynsey has covered some of the most important global topics, and created iconic, impactful, powerful content that has made her one of the most prominent photojournalists in the industry. Although she has had a very active year, covering topics such as the Syrian refugee crisis, and shooting a project for the Nobel Peace Centre on the joint winners of the Nobel Peace Prize, I have chosen to spotlight an image she shot on assignment for the New York Times, whilst working on a story about migrants crossing the Mediterranean Sea on boats from North Africa. Whilst I have seen many images on this subject over the years, this particular image captures the chaos and overcrowding in an image which is graphically striking in composition, and illustrates the desperate measures these 109 African migrants from Gambia, Mali, Senegal, Ivory Coast, Guinea, and Nigeria have taken to try to reach European shores, and all that their destination represents to them.
In contrast to these first three images on very photojournalistic subjects, one of our leading photographers Benjamin Lowy was assigned by Harpers Magazine to travel to the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia and provide a different view of the Games. Ben is one of the most visually creative Reportage photographers we have worked with over the years, regularly challenging himself to document a widely covered story but to do so in a unique manner. The work he produced in Sochi did exactly that. It stands shoulder to shoulder with some of the best sports coverage the industry produced and yet still manages to set itself apart and make the viewer feel like they are seeing something unique. This particular image doesn’t need a lot of explaining, but to me the body shape of the skier and the light cast across the scene gives it a serenity and surreal feel that lifts it beyond the subject matter and event itself.
Every year, photographer Brent Stirton dedicates a portion of his time to working with a charity/NGO organization. In late 2013 (but first released by us in 2014), Brent Stirton travelled to rural India on assignment for Blue Chalk Media to shoot a story for the NGO, Wonderwork. He documented the simple operations they are providing for children in remote rural communities who are born with congenital cataract blindness, who without their help would not be able to afford the surgery to treat this curable condition and regain the power of sight. Brent followed two sisters, Sonia and Anita, documenting their daily lives, their journey to have the surgery, and those first few magical days as they rediscovered the world around them with a sense that those of us in the world of visual communication take for granted: sight. The image I have singled out is a moment of pure joy, happiness and childhood innocence as the two sisters walk through bulrushes close to their village after undergoing the sight-restoring surgery.
I would also like to recommend highly that you view the related short multimedia piece which is extremely emotive, and a beautiful story:
Download the free Year in Focus book on iBooks