Nat CastañedaComment

1,000 words and then some: The stories behind the shots

Nat CastañedaComment
1,000 words and then some: The stories behind the shots

Curating the most unique perspectives from some of the world’s leading photographers, “1,000 words and then some” is AP’s monthly photo series that takes a look beyond the lens and camera data at the stories behind some of our favorite shots.

This month offers intimate portraits of change and transformation — from the physical to the natural, as well as the political. Through loss, gain or a combination of the two, our lenses were there to capture these liminal moments in time. 

Produced for Canon by AP Content Services, the paid content service of The Associated Press.

In this Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016 photo, a flag of Portugal waves next to burning tents, abandoned by their owners at the makeshift migrant camp known as "The jungle" near Calais, northern France. (AP Photo/Emilio Morenatti)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II  Lens: EF50mm f/1.2L IS II USM Focal length: 50mm  F-Stop: 1.2  ISO speed: 50  Shutter speed: 1/5000

From the photographer: "Working at The Jungle has been an incredible experience for me," said Morenatti. "I was doing previous assignments in this camp in 2015, and I found there very sad stories and hard experiences from men with a common goal: reaching their final stage arriving to UK. They endured long journeys from their countries, all to finally converge at that improvised camp, living in miserable conditions and waiting for the opportunity to jump on top of a truck or train to drive them inside Great Britain through the English Channel. 

"This time, the assignment was to cover the dismantling of the camp. The migrants I knew there were this time more angry and frustrated with the news that the French government would give them the opportunity to be relocated in Temporary Immigration Centers around France but not in UK. Everybody in the camp wanted to go to Great Britain. 

"Working as a photographer inside the jungle was this time more difficult than before. People were angry with the hundreds of journalists gathering there to cover the dismantling of the camp, most of them try to avoid being photographed and a few were even aggressive with photographers. Some of the migrants burnt their tents and belongings before leaving the camp forever. So the area looked like a hell at a certain point. I was looking for stillness photos at the camp after everybody left. I focused on the things left behind by the migrants. It was then when I saw that colorful flag in the middle of the ashes and burning tents. I had to wait for more than two hours to see the flag waving. I remember some colleagues walking by telling me, ‘Do you need us blowing (upward)?’

"I had the feeling that the image would work well when the first wind blew the flag after a long wait there. It happened late in the evening, and the last light of the sunset was a good ally to make the color even more soft and uniform. I then enjoyed shooting a couple dozens of frames until the last light disappeared from the scene."


Mariela Flores, who is visually impaired, is crowned one of two Miss "Jacha Uru," translated from the Aymaran language as “Great Day,” in La Paz, Bolivia, Friday, Oct. 14, 2016. The families of people with disabilities, with the help of the city government, organized the pageant to promote the rights of children and adolescents with impairments that ranged from physical to sensory to developmental. About 50 contestants demonstrated their skills in singing or dancing, and wrapped up the competition sporting their finest evening wear. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III  Lens: EF35mm f/1.4L II USM  Focal length: 35mm  F-Stop: 2.0  ISO speed: 800  Shutter speed: 1/125

From the photographer: “This photograph was taken the moment that two women from the Jacha Uru organization placed beauty queen crown on Mariela Flores," said Karita. "Her expression of tenderness, with her white, blind eyes, and the nervousness of her hands touching the crown she had won moved me to tears.

"There have been very few times that any of the photographs for my work have affected me so much. Over the years, I have felt many emotions in my work as a photojournalist but never have I felt the emotion inspired in me that day by Mariela’s tenderness and happiness.

"Mariela Flores was born with congenital blindness in the city of El Alto. At 5 years of age, she has been able to see shadows and that has given her family hope that she would recover her sight. Her parents have left her with her aunts, who have taken care of her. A volunteer with the Jacha Uru organization, Elizabeth Charca, says that her blindness is not an impediment and that the youngster is happy and hyperactive."


Four Palestinian friends who were injured during conflicts walk by the sea at Gaza's small fishing harbor, Monday, Oct. 24, 2016. Fighting left thousands of people with disabilities or no limbs in this Palestinian enclave. (AP Photo/Hatem Moussa)

Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III  Lens: EF24mm f/2.8L II USM  Focal length: 24mm  F-Stop: 22  ISO speed: 1250  Shutter speed: 1/3200

From the photographer: "Almost every day, I go to the only escape of this beleaguered city: the beach, particularly the small fishing harbor there," said Moussa. 

"I saw these men with amputated legs standing there. I kept looking at them from my car window. Many thoughts hovered in my mind. I'm like them. We share the very same suffering. Seeing them together also inspired me and gave me some hope that I'm not alone and that there are people passing through the same ordeal. I looked around to other people behind them. I could imagine how those four men felt. 

"I decided to take a picture for them. I found myself taking more than one picture and also talking to them. We shared our stories about how we were injured. The four men know each other. Two of them buy one pair of shoes (one takes the left and the other the right). They sit by the sea from time to time to kill time. I saw them before, but this time all four were there together. I got out of the car, leaned against it and lowered the camera as low as I could, to let the sunlight blacken the picture, because black is a glimpse into their life.

"When I first approached them, the goal was to take a picture to keep for myself. But later, when I was downloading the pictures on the computer, I changed my mind and decided to file them because they had a message that wars are difficult and their cost is heavy."

The Thufa hill in Reykjavik, Friday, Oct. 28, 2016. Parliamentary elections will be held in Iceland on Oct. 29, 2016, as more than 250,000 voters are called to elect the new parliament — 63 members of the Althing parliament. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II  Lens: EF100-400mm f/4.5-5.6L IS USM  Focal length: 400mm  F-Stop: 10  ISO speed: 2500  Shutter speed: 1/2000

From the photographer: "On that morning, I went to the harbor of Reykjavik to do some general view photos of the city and some features for the upcoming election," said Augstein. "The weather was very cloudy and dark, but as the Icelander’s say, 'If you don’t like the weather, just wait five minutes.’

"The saying was right; suddenly the clouds cleared up, followed by a heavy wind and a sunlight that pointed out this lovely man-made hill in front of the Reykjavik-surrounding mountains. It was covered in bright, green grass, and since it was so early, not many people were around, so I waited a few minutes for the bird to fly past to get some 'life' in the photo.

"A circular path around lets you get up that hill with a nice view over parts of the harbor. I found out the wooden booth on top is built in an exposed area where it is very windy and is used to dry fish that the fishermen hang inside, away from the hungry animals."


In this photo taken on Tuesday, Oct. 18, 2016, a fish splashes as it is caught by fish farm workers at a drained pond outside the village of Shkolny, 38 miles west of Minsk, Belarus. The fish farm supplies their produce, mainly carp, to local stores. (AP Photo/Sergei Grits)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II  Lens: EF600mm f/4L USM  Focal length: 600mm  F-Stop: 5.6  ISO speed: 400  Shutter speed: 1/1250

From the photographer: "Autumn is the time of collecting harvest in the fish farms of Belarus," said Grits. "The fish, which grow under protection and with regular feeding, are caught by the workers for processing and sale. First, the lake is drained of almost all its water, and fish remain in the black mud. Then, (workers) open the damper and a thick stream of fish and mud is sent to a concrete cube, where they use large nets to catch fish from it. 

"On the shore the fish are sorted by species and sent for processing. Workers are terse; they have a lot of hard work in these autumn days. When the flow of the fish ends, several workers are waist-deep in the mud on the bottom of the lake and gather in front of the rest of the fish. The fish cannot swim, because there is little water and mire. In the last moments of their lives, a big fish lies on its side in the mud of the lake where they grew up splashing. Their splashing raises into the air a beautiful necklace of black water drops. My field clothes and track shoes were not allowed to get closer, so I used a 600mm lens. I was helped by a great contrast between the black mud and the bright sun. One commented this ‘fish-fashion model’ in my photo would be deliciously cooked and eaten by a good man."


The daughter of 84-year-old Armant Germain replaces the sheets on her bed, in the cholera ward at a hospital in Les Cayes Haiti, Tuesday, Oct. 11, 2016. Health authorities have warned that Hurricane Matthew has created conditions that are likely to cause an increase in the deadly waterborne cholera virus. (AP Photo/Rebecca Blackwell)

Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III  Lens: EF24-70mm f/2.8L USM  Focal length: 24mm  F-Stop: 2.8  ISO speed: 3200  Shutter speed: 1/500

From the photographer: "Whenever I shoot in cholera wards, I have to be attentive not to touch anything," said Blackwell, "which unfortunately means restraining my natural instinct to offer a handshake or a comforting touch when talking with patients and their relatives. I photographed inside two cholera wards in Haiti. This one was the better equipped, since no one was lying on the floor, there were saline IVs to hydrate patients, and they had a chlorine cleaning solution to try to limit the spread of bacteria.

"I had already spoken to relatives and shot a number of frames of individual patients, but I wanted to get a wider shot to give a better feel for the ward, which was bathed in green light filtering through pieces of plastic covering holes in the roof. These three patients were all feeling somewhat better and were able to sit up for a time. Instead of the slab of wood with a hole cut out which the other patients were lying on, 84-year-old Armant Germain had an actual bed and mattress, so she wasn’t able to avoid soiling the sheets. After her daughter replaced the washed sheets, she urged her mother to get back in bed and rest, but Germain resisted, steadfastly sitting up in the chair with her IV attached.

"This cholera ward was in Les Cayes, a big regional town, but most of the patients had come from remote villages that had been harder hit by the storm. Family members told us they had carried sick babies or helped their weak relatives make the hours-long walk, fording streams and rivers many times to reach Les Cayes and a clinic that had saline and uncontaminated drinking water. People who waited longer to seek help were too weak to make the difficult journey."


Jeff Muller of Wilmington, N.C., salutes as Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump arrives to a campaign rally, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016, in Kinston, N.C. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II  Lens: EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM  Focal length: 24mm  F-Stop: 4.0  ISO speed: 2000  Shutter speed: 1/100

From the photographer: "This image was taken at an airport rally in Kinston, North Carolina," said Vucci. "A typical airport rally will have a candidate fly in, taxi the airplane right next to the stage, have the candidate speak, and be on the way to the next event. It’s a quick way for the campaign to get more events packed into the day. The first thing I noticed when we arrived was how bright the lights were. In the buffer area in front of the stage the lights were blinding. It was almost impossible to make out faces. I knew there was a picture to be made here somewhere, but I was having an impossible time figuring it out. When Trump’s plane landed, this man was getting emotional. I made a note to myself to go back to him once Trump stepped off his plane. A few minutes later as the music began and they introduced ‘the next President of the United States,’ this man snapped into a salute and was fighting back tears. I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. 

"A few weeks later at another rally in North Carolina, someone in the crowd screamed my name. I turned around and it was this man just smiling at me. He told me that he was getting tons of calls and texts from friends and family.”


Jockey Mike Smith celebrates after riding Tamarkuz to victory in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile horse race at Santa Anita, Friday, Nov. 4, 2016, in Arcadia, Calif. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II  Lens: EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM  Focal length: 70mm  F-Stop: 2.8  ISO speed: 320 Shutter speed: 1/6400

From the photographer: "Jockey Mike Smith is known for tossing flowers in front of photographers when he celebrates every time he wins a race," said Hong. “I picked up a camera with a 70-200mm zoom lens to shoot this because it’s not too wide or too tight. Luckily he did it right in front of me. 

"The track is quite picturesque in the November afternoon sunlight. The flowers and the jockey’s colorful silks against the blue sky worked for me, too. I’ve photographed him before, but this was the first time he gave photographers a little heads up by asking 'ready?' before tossing flowers. I guess he really wanted us to capture the moment."

In this Oct. 28, 2016 photo, some 1,000 students practice flipping boards with photos to reveal a full-mosaic portrait of the late Thai King Bhumibol Adulyadej at Assumption College in Bangkok, Thailand. King Bhumibol died Oct. 13 after reigning for 70 years, plunging the country into grief and extended mourning. The official mourning period is one year. (AP Photo/Sakchai Lalit)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X  Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM  Focal length: 47mm  F-Stop: 5.0 ISO speed: 800  Shutter speed: 1/1300

From the photographer: "This photo was taken from the third floor of the building of the Assumption College Campus," said Lalit. "The majority of photographers had their spots at second floor, but I didn’t think it was high enough. The third floor was much better for me to get a photo at a better angle.

"I was waiting for the announcement from the student leader for the timing so I could get the right spot at the right time to get a shot. The students started flipping their boards from left to the right, and I waited until the moment that a student in the first row on the left started flipping the boards to start shooting. I took photos until the full portrait of King Bhumibol appeared.

"After the formal announcement from the Royal Palace about the death of the King Bhumibol on the Thursday, Oct. 13, there were many activities going on in order to show respect to King Bhumibol. This Mosaic portrait of the boards flipping event is also one of the projects students of Assumption College did for the king. They (put) so much effort on preparation and rehearsal in order to make sure this happened and was memorable to the fullest. This is what they could do to show love and respect to the king.”


Displaced people stand on the back of a truck at a checkpoint near Qayara, south of Mosul, Iraq, Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. The UN human rights office is lauding efforts by the U.S.-led coalition in the battle against the Islamic State group in Mosul. The office in Geneva says coalition flights over Iraq have largely succeeded in preventing IS from bringing in 25,000 more civilians to the city center, where the militant group has been using people as human shields as Iraqi forces advance on Mosul. (AP Photo/Felipe Dana)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II  Lens: EF35mm f/1.4L USM  Focal length: 35mm  F-Stop: 1.8  ISO speed: 50  Shutter speed: 1/5000

From the photographer: "As the Iraqi army and coalition forces push toward Mosul, we discover more and more cities and villages completely destroyed by the war," said Dana. “The scene of thousands of residents leaving their homes as bombs and airstrikes explode nearby repeats itself. 

"Convoys of cars and trucks filled with people displaced by the conflict are seen everywhere as you approach Mosul. In this checkpoint near Qayara, some 50 kilometers south of Mosul, this group waited anxiously on the back of a pickup truck to be allowed to pass the checkpoint as they drove away from the conflict. In the background, you see burning oil wells set alight by Islamic State militants weeks ago when the city was retaken by Iraqi ground forces backed by coalition airpower.”

This post was produced for Canon, AP’s exclusive vendor of still photography equipment, by AP Content Services, the paid content service of The Associated Press.

AP photographers were interviewed by a third-party reporter on behalf of Canon.

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