A PICTURE AND ITS STORY: Pictures of the Year

29 mins read
U.S. President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at Cecil Airport in Jacksonville, Florida, U.S., September 24, 2020. Reuters photogrpaher Tom Brenner: "We descended from Air Force One onto the hot, humid tarmac in Jacksonville, Florida. It was already our third campaign stop of the day. Rally attendees, mostly without protective masks, were shouting at anyone holding a camera to 'treat Trump fairly' and to 'stop lying'. As each Trump rally typically has the same layout of a large audience viewing area encircling an elevated podium, I knew I had to make different images to keep our coverage varied. I zoomed in with my telephoto lens to compose the giant swaying American flag around the president, then behind his open mouth as he passionately addressed the thousands of supporters listening below. I took several dozen photographs, attempting to frame the president with the flag in order to visualize his strong views on the coronavirus, the economy, and the United States as a whole. It wasn't until I saw the images on my laptop that I understood that my plan had been successful that day." REUTERS/Tom Brenner/File photo

(Reuters) – From the coronavirus pandemic to the anti-racism protests following the death of George Floyd, Reuters photographers were on the ground covering the most important stories of the year.

Photographers reacted quickly to capture images from a car driver ramming into and then shooting at protesters in Seattle to a woman mourning the death of her husband during gang wars and police operations in Rio de Janeiro.

Beyond the striking pictures, these are the stories of the women and men behind the lens and their experiences in the line of duty.

“I never push my luck to the limit,” said Danish Siddiqui, who photographed a mob as they beat up a Muslim man during communal riots in New Delhi. “I always keep a buffer which helps me walk out with the pictures which tell the story.”

From dramatic images from rural Australia where the air was thick with smoke during the worst bushfires in recorded history, to intensive care units in Italy and Texas where doctors in full protective suits worked valiantly to save lives, the photographers overcame logistical and technical obstacles.

Below is a selection of some exceptional Reuters pictures taken in 2020 along with the stories behind the shots, directly from the photographers who took them.

Santa Claus meets with children while sitting in a "Santa Claus bubble" at Aalborg Zoo
Rosetta Oliver, a nurse manager, is the first to receive the COVID-19 vaccine at Cooper University Health Care Tuesday, Dec. 15,
Medical workers at Maimonides Medical Center
The Wider Image: As crops fail, Indonesia's Sumba seeks lifeline in weaving, fishing
Wider Image: Meet Senegal's first female pro surfer inspiring girls to take to the waves
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Nancy Allen and Brian Allen stand outside their home as high winds push smoke and ash from the Currowan Fire towards Nowra, New South Wales, Australia, January 4, 2020. Reuters photographer Tracey Nearmy: “Covering Australia’s sparsely populated regions is difficult. And when the bushfires started this summer, getting there was tricky. After a day of travelling, I found myself in smoky red haze face-to-face with Nancy Allen in Nowra, New South Wales. Nancy and her husband Brian, dressed in a singlet and shorts, were trying to defend their home with a garden hose. The fire bearing down on their town was so intense, it was creating its own pyrocumulonimbus storm, and the police had evacuated the area hours earlier. Yet, Nancy and Brian stayed in the swirling smoke and ash, anxiously wetting down the front of their house. Mistaking me for an emergency crew, Nancy rushed over to ask me what they should do. Given that the suburb had already been evacuated, I told them to follow the advice to go to the closest evacuation centre. Their home was close to dense bushland, so it was worrying to see them still on their property an hour later. Nancy’s expression in this photograph summed up the shock and disbelief many Australians felt at the ferocity and enormity of these fires.”
REUTERS/Tracey Nearmy/File photo
Samburu men attempt to fend-off a swarm of desert locusts flying over a grazing land in Lemasulani village, Samburu County, Kenya, January 17, 2020. Reuters photographer Monicah Mwangi: “Desert locusts have been recorded in the Horn of Africa since biblical times, but this year, unusual weather patterns exacerbated by climate change created the perfect circumstances for swarms to descend in northern Kenya. The entire grazing field where they had gathered in Samburu County was covered in yellow as the insects munched on grass meant for livestock. ‘The locusts are in millions, they will finish all the vegetation, and then what will our animals feed on?’ said one local trying to fend off the swarms by shouting and beating on empty containers. Being in the middle of the swarm of locusts was scary, as some would hit the camera with full force and die. I had to keep on wiping my camera lens, and my movement in the cloud was limited. If I had tried to talk, I would be eating flying locusts raw. I wanted to juxtapose the colourful modern clothes of the Samburu men using an old technique to try and disperse the swarm with the buzzing yellow locusts destroying the future by eating the grazing grass. Soon after I took this picture, a plane spraying pesticide flew over the swarm and they disappeared on their migratory path.” REUTERS/Monicah Mwangi/File photo
Protester Patrick Hutchinson carries a suspected far-right counter-protester who was injured, to safety, near Waterloo station during a Black Lives Matter protest following the death of George Floyd in Minneapolis police custody, in London, Britain, June 13, 2020. Reuters photographer Dylan Martinez: “The crowd parted right in front of me. I was in the right place at the right time, and incredibly lucky from that point of view. A Black protester emerged from the melee, walking briskly towards me, carrying a white man with injuries to his face in a fireman’s lift over his shoulder. The anti-racism protests in London that Saturday had been fluid and unpredictable. After witnessing sporadic, minor clashes between demonstrators and police in Trafalgar Square, I switched attention to nearby Waterloo Bridge, where several hundred anti-racism protesters had gathered. They took over the whole of the bridge. There was a traffic jam going from south to north, but the vibe was good – cars were honking and people were celebrating. The mood quickly turned ugly when they encountered a group of counter-protesters and clashes broke out. I saw a skirmish and someone falling to the ground before the two men appeared through the crowd. Some people shouted out that the assault victim was a member of the far-right. Reuters journalists at the scene said he had been beaten in a skirmish with anti-racism protesters. This picture went viral on social media and was featured in news bulletins. Patrick Hutchinson has been hailed a hero for carrying the injured man to safety during the scuffle. ‘It was the right thing to do,’ he told Reuters later. ‘We didn’t want the narrative changed and the focus taken away from what we are all fighting for, and that’s true equality.'”
REUTERS/Dylan Martinez/File photo
Belarusian shepherd Alexey Usikov, 33, drives a horse-drawn carriage equipped with a battery, head lights and a small potbelly stove, which he crafted out of an old Audi-80 and which he jokingly calling it an Audi-40 as he used only a half of the car, in the village of Knyazhytsy, Belarus May 28, 2020. Reuters photographer Vasily Fedosenko: “Cowherd Alexey Usikov often has to brave inclement weather while tending to his herd at a collective farm in eastern Belarus. On a neighbour’s suggestion, he decided to convert his old Audi 80 into an ‘all-weather’ cart by connecting half of it to a horse-drawn shaft. The result? A rough-and-ready home on wheels that protects Usikov from the rain. His ‘Audi-40’, as he jokingly calls the improvised half of the original car, is equipped with a battery, headlights, radio, and even a tiny potbelly stove that provides warmth and on which he makes coffee. Usikov has welded the cart’s body where necessary, repainted it, and lubricates and pumps the wheels. “It gives you pleasure to ride a well-maintained cart,” he said. I wanted one photo that would show the inimitable self-made horse-drawn carriage against the backdrop of Usikov’s village. Such a moment presented itself at the end of his shift, when he handed over cow-tending duties to his brother and went home. A steep hill allowed for a top-down shot capturing the two horses pulling the unusual vehicle past an ordinary village house.”
REUTERS/Vasily Fedosenko/File photo
A migrant carries her belongings following a fire at the Moria camp for refugees and migrants on the island of Lesbos, Greece, September 9, 2020. Reuters photographer Elias Marcou: “The morning after a fire broke out at Moria refugee camp on Lesbos island in the olive grove next to it, helicopters were dropping water to extinguish scattered fires, while people were returning to assess the extent of the damage and recover what they could. At the time, approximately 13,000 people were living at the camp, making it the most populated in Europe. The night before, the police had blocked the road a few hundred metres from the camp to prevent refugees from walking to the nearest city of Mytilene, while the camp was ablaze, and people were desperately trying to get away from the flames, carrying with them any personal belongings they could gather in the darkness. Exploding cooking gas canisters gave an intensity to the night chaos. In the grey morning, I watched as a woman carrying some blankets turned back for a moment as if to take a last look at the remnants of the life she was once more moving on from. This thought moved me deeply as I captured this image.”
REUTERS/Elias Marcou/File photo
Juliana, who says she is four months pregnant, reacts in front of the body of her husband Davi Barboza, who was shot in Sao Carlos, during a police operation after heavy confrontations between drug gangs, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 27, 2020. Reuters photographer Ricardo Moraes: “About 10 hours into covering clashes between drug gangs battling to take control of the Sao Carlos slums complex in Rio de Janeiro, and a police operation to quell the violence, I found Juliana sobbing in anguish next to the body of her husband Davi, who was found shot dead after the conflict. I was struck by the contrasts in the scene – Juliana’s sorrow compared to the stoic faces of the police officers, the military uniforms and weapons surrounding her. Covering violence in Rio is always a challenge. Dealing with the police, residents or victims is not easy, and the situation can change at any minute. That day, I was witness to a lot of distressing events – people being taken hostage, heavy shootouts, police chasing gang members and Juliana’s despair. ‘My husband, he was what he was. But he was a good man,” Juliana said to me the day after she lost Davi. “He was my prince.’
REUTERS/Ricardo Moraes/File photo
Dr. Joseph Varon, 58, the chief medical officer at United Memorial Medical Center (UMMC), and a team of healthcare workers perform CPR on a COVID-19 patient at UMMC, during the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) outbreak, in Houston, Texas, U.S., July 17, 2020. Reuters photographer Callaghan O’Hare: “Houston’s COVID-19 cases had been rising for weeks and it was my third time photographing patients in the intensive care unit. I was following Doctor Varon and his team as they intubated two patients with worsening conditions. The first intubation went smoothly. We walked into the second patient’s room and almost as soon as they began the procedure, his heart rate dropped. The air was filled with anxiety. I was in a corner of the room with my camera and it wasn’t until two medical students jumped onto the bed and began administering chest compressions that I realized the patient was dying. The whole scene took place over the course of thirty minutes as we all nervously watched the clock and his heart rate monitor. Although this patient was surrounded by people while he died, they were faceless doctors in hazmat suits. He wasn’t able to say goodbye to his family, friends, and the people who cared about him. I looked him up later on Facebook, and his profile picture had a filter on it that said, “I’m an essential worker, I can’t stay home.” I often think about him and the likelihood that he contracted the coronavirus at work. I hope his image and his story resonate with people and show why it’s important to wear a mask and stay at home to protect those that can’t.”
REUTERS/Callaghan O’Hare/File photo
Protesters on horseback rally against the death in Minneapolis police custody of George Floyd, through downtown Houston, Texas, U.S., June 2, 2020. Reuters photographer Adrees Latif: “A week after the death of George Floyd at the hands of Minneapolis police, tens of thousands of demonstrators poured into Floyd’s hometown of Houston for an emotional and peaceful march to honor his life and protest police brutality. Driving into the city center, I saw thousands of Houstonians walking for miles to take part in the event. Many held signs and wore clothes bearing the image of George Floyd. As I raced towards the start of the march, I heard the distinctive sound of horses coming in my direction. With each trot along the brick-paved street, their approach echoed off the skyscrapers. A man wearing a red bandana with the words “Rap-A-Lot Records” took the lead in the procession, blocked the intersection and raised his fist in the air. Others followed in solidarity and before long, I was in the midst of a cavalry of Black Americans on horseback. With my senses overcome by the sounds, smells and splendor of the horses amid the towering buildings, I moved to compose and capture the moment before it was over. As quickly as the group appeared, the words ‘Justice for George Floyd’ and ‘Black Lives Matter,’ could be heard as the equestrians rode off into the distance.”
REUTERS/Adrees Latif/File photo
A leukaemia patient and her mother coming from Hubei province cross a checkpoint at the Jiujiang Yangtze River Bridge in Jiujiang, Jiangxi province, China, as the country is hit by an outbreak of a new coronavirus, February 1, 2020. Reuters photographer Thomas Peter: “The clock was running out on farmer Lu Yuejin, desperate to get her 26-year-old daughter Hu Ping to chemotherapy for her leukaemia. But Hubei was under coronavirus lockdown and she struggled to pass a checkpoint to get to the hospital in the neighbouring province.’She needs to have her treatment. But they won’t let us through,’ she said when we met her at the police cordon, her daughter wrapped in a duvet to protect her compromised immune system against the outside world. In February, the coronavirus had not yet become a global scourge, but for people in China, the epidemic was already a new reality. The authorities had closed off the city of Wuhan, where the virus was first discovered, and put the surrounding Hubei province under a virtual lockdown. Checkpoints had sprung up along its borders to prevent residents from leaving. People were scarred. Many stayed home and only ducked out to get food. Clad in full PPE, we travelled along the edge of the exclusion zone to report on how life was changing. Navigating the police and local government officials was the hardest part of our reporting as our presence was often not welcome. We found Lu Yuejin crying and pleading with the police. At one point she dropped to the ground, wailing. About an hour after she spoke with us, an ambulance arrived that took them to the hospital. I felt relieved to see them go. Their long road of cancer treatment had come to a brutal end at this checkpoint – they could not go back across the bridge where hospitals were filling up with virus patients. Lu’s tears and Hu’s resigned posture made this clear. That morning they eventually got lucky, but this incident made me think of all the other untold tragedies during this pandemic, which has turned routine journeys into an obstacle course. For some, overcoming those hurdles is a question of life or death.”
Jiujiang, China. Reuters/Thomas Peter
Patricia McCloskey and her husband Mark McCloskey draw their firearms on protestors as they enter their neighbourhood during a protest against St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson, in St. Louis, Missouri, U.S. June 28, 2020. Reuters photogrpaher Lawrence Bryant: “That Sunday evening, several hundred Black and white protesters walked through an open gate into the community where the couple – Mark McCloskey and his wife Patricia McCloskey – lived. They were met by Mark McCloskey holding what looked like an automatic rifle and shouting ‘get out!’ several times at the crowd. I was not overly worried, even when he appeared to cock his weapon. But then Patricia McCloskey appeared from the front of the house holding a handgun. She had her finger on the trigger and looked nervous and I became a little bit more worried, as there were kids out there and she was sporadically pointing the gun at random people. I was just trying to make frames, stay safe, dodge the barrel of the gun and stay out of sight and out of line. I’m a big, Black man and I always have to pay attention to that anyway. I’m pleased with the pictures I took of the scene. I may have liked a longer lens to be able to zoom in on the couple, but the fact that I had only one camera meant I captured not just the McCloskeys, but also the protesters around them. A lot of the photos out there focus on the couple holding the guns, but to me that’s not telling the whole story. I wanted to show there were people protesting peacefully and the couple came to engage them.”
REUTERS/Lawrence Bryant/File photo
SENSITIVE MATERIAL. THIS IMAGE MAY OFFEND OR DISTURB A group of men chanting pro-Hindu slogans, beat Mohammad Zubair, 37, who is Muslim, during protests sparked by a new citizenship law in New Delhi, India, February 24, 2020. Reuters photographer Danish Siddiqui: “It had been a winter of protests in India, with hundreds of thousands taking to the streets against a new citizenship law that many felt discriminated against the country’s Muslim minority. In February, competing protests between those against the law and its supporters turned into communal riots with violent clashes. A source called me to tell me that trouble had broken out at one of the protest sites. Within a few minutes of arriving on the scene, it became clear this was a more dangerous situation, with heavy stone-pelting, and throwing of Molotov cocktails and bottles of acid. Shadowing lines of heavily outnumbered police, I noticed more than a dozen people ranging from teenagers to old men assaulting a Muslim man in white clothes. Using sticks, cricket stumps, plastic pipes and metal rods, they brutally beat the man. Blood flowed from his head as he went down on his knees. The attack was over in less than a minute, as Muslims on the other side of the road started throwing stones. The man, whom I later came to know as Mohammad Zubair, lay on the road alone as stones, bricks and Molotov cocktails flew over him. Zubair suffered serious injuries all over his body as well as internally but was lucky to survive and is still recovering. ‘They saw I was alone, they saw my cap, beard, shalwar kameez (traditional outfit) and saw me as a Muslim,’ Zubair said to me when I met him a couple of days later. ‘They just started attacking, shouting slogans. What kind of humanity is this?'”
REUTERS/Danish Siddiqui/File photo
Gang members are seen inside a cell at Quezaltepeque jail during a media tour in Quezaltepeque, El Salvador, September 4, 2020. Reuters photographer Jose Cabezas: “Members of the MS-13 and Barrio 18 gangs are sworn enemies and historically jails were segregated to prevent violence. However, with an increase in homicides in the midst of the coronavirus pandemic the government changed the policy and stated mixing the prison populations. This cell contains Barrio 18 gang members – you can tell the gang allegiances from the tattoos that cover the men’s bodies. Previous times I’ve visited the prisoners were roaming about the jail but this time the atmosphere was different – the gang members were unusually quiet and controlled. The air smelt musty and heavy from so many people being crammed in together and tired faces watched our every move. I’ve been covering the gangs for many years and one of the things that always strikes me is how young the gang members are – an older member of the gang might be in his early-twenties. For some it’s almost a miracle if they make it to their thirties.”
REUTERS/Jose Cabezas/File photo
Detained Filipino activist Reina Mae Nasino holds a flower during the burial of her three-month-old baby River, who died while she was in jail, in Manila North Cemetery, Philippines, October 16, 2020. Reuters photographer Eloisa Lopez: “The moment I saw Filipino activist Reina Mae Nasino step out at the burial site of her three-month-old baby River, my eyes locked onto her hands. She was handcuffed, in a full personal protective suit, and surrounded by armed prison guards. Her relatives and lawyers repeatedly pleaded for her to be uncuffed—even for just a minute—to give her a chance to hold her baby for the last time, but the authorities refused. It was heartbreaking to witness Nasino sob silently in front of a tiny white coffin, caressing the top of it with her cuffed hands, as her sister played lullabies on a cellphone. This photograph of Nasino holding a white flower was taken during her last moments with her baby, as loved ones threw flowers into the grave before the tomb was covered in cement. It’s a simple image and doesn’t show any of the chaos I witnessed that day, but I think it demonstrates who Nasino was in that moment. Putting all the politics aside, she was just a mother mourning her child, in a universal feeling that anyone could sympathise with.”
REUTERS/Eloisa Lopez/File photo

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