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

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.

As the calendar year begins anew, we begin 2017 with a series of images largely and appropriately made remarkable through their varying degrees of contrast. From gestures of peace among conflict to silhouettes against sunsets to figures of light that stand out from the bleakness surrounding them, the following images and their stories signal what may become a year ripe with the clash — and harmony — of contrast.

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

A child wearing a bear fur costume dances along with adults during the annual bear ritual gathering in Comanesti, Romania, Friday, Dec. 30, 2016. In pre-Christian rural traditions, dancers wearing colored costumes or animal furs, toured from house to house in villages singing and dancing to ward off evil. In the present, the tradition has moved to Romania's cities too, where dancers travel to perform the ritual for money. (AP Photo/Vadim Ghirda)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II  Lens: EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Focal length: 95mm  F-Stop: 5.0  ISO speed: 320  Shutter speed: 1/800

From the photographer: "I was first drawn to the difference in height between the adults and the child dancing on stage wearing the bear furs," said Ghirda. "I was also drawn to the pensive look on the little girl's face, contrasted against the very noisy atmosphere with almost ear-piercing nonstop drum beats and continuous dancing. It was like she was in a different dimension, yet kept dancing in perfect sync with the others.

"I've been photographing this event since 2007 almost every year and I haven't lost my interest in it at all. Although it appears very repetitive in terms of the choreography, the energy of the performers makes it very different every time. It's as close as you can get to witnessing an ancient magic ritual. A lot of the performers, even the very young ones who are more numerous every year, seem to experience a real trance and it's quite impressive to watch.”


In this Dec. 12, 2016 photo, police officers stand with flowers given to them by demonstrators during a protest against austerity measures outside the state legislature, in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Police, firefighters and schoolteachers are among the workers for Brazil's Rio de Janeiro state protesting against government austerity measures being considered by lawmakers. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X  Lens: EF35mm f/1.4L USMFocal length: 35mm  F-Stop: 2.0  ISO speed: 125  Shutter speed: 1/800

From the photographer: "The state of Rio de Janeiro is experiencing an economic crisis so deep that it is months behind on payments to thousands of public workers," said Izquierdo. "Recent protests in front of the legislature, where authorities have been crafting austerity measures, have sometimes become violent. 

"Wearing a helmet and carrying a gas mask, I’ve covered some of these demonstrations. The day I took this photo, I girded myself for the rock-throwing, pepper spray and hours-long clashes that I had seen before. However, the protest was peaceful. What’s more, I saw demonstrators giving flowers to the police, who are also victims of the crisis. 

"The contrast of the flowers with the shields and guns caught my attention. I was especially taken by the attitude of the police, who kindly accepted the flowers as gifts, so I concentrated the shot on these elements.”


Germany's Karl Geiger soars through the air during his trial jump at the fourth stage of the 65th Four Hills ski jumping tournament in Bischofshofen, Austria, Friday, Jan. 6, 2017. (AP Photo/Matthias Schrader)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II  Lens: EF200-400mm f/4L IS USM  Focal length: 371mm  F-Stop: 9.0  ISO speed: 100  Shutter speed: 1/15

From the photographer: "This picture was taken with a long exposure," said Schrader. "I used 1/15 of a second for the shutter on an EOS 1 DX Mark II.

"I photographed 30 jumpers this way, and in the end, five were good enough to put on the wire. It is always a matter of luck to finally receive a good picture with that quality. The picture was taken on the final day of the Four Hill Tournament in Bischofshofen. My plan at the very beginning was to photograph only the landing of the jumper, but then I decided to reprogram the camera and bring some art into it and thus have a long exposure of the ski jumper.”


In this Dec. 20, 2016 photo, Aymara indigenous women, one carrying a baby on her back, walk home after working in their fields during a severe and prolonged drought on the outskirts of Pucarani, Bolivia. While there have been isolated heavy rains in recent weeks, they haven't yet been enough to compensate for months of drier than usual weather. (AP Photo/Juan Karita)

Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III  Lens: EF16-35mm f/2.8L II USM Focal length: 16mm  F-Stop: 3.5  ISO speed: 200  Shutter speed: 1/200

From the photographer: "In the background is one of the sunsets in the altiplano of La Paz," said Karita, "an area suffering from a drought that has hurt crops. I took this photo when I was returning from a shoot about the drought. I saw the Aymara women walking in the background and I was impressed by their silhouettes; one of them carrying a baby. Aymara women are very distrustful around strangers. When I tried to engage them in conversation, they just looked at me."


Malik poses for a portrait inside her home in Sedow, south Kashmir. Insha said she was standing by the window of her village home watching protesters and troops skirmish when more than a 100 pellets hit her face, "Everything looks dark and black." Five months after she lost her eyes, Malik is still learning how to deal with her loss, both emotionally and practically. (AP Photo/Bernat Armangue)

Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III  Lens: EF85mm f/1.8 USM  Focal length: 85mm          F-Stop: 5.0  ISO speed: 250  Shutter speed: 1/100

From the photographer: "This image is part of a portrait series of Kashmiris affected by shotgun pellets," said Armangue. "Her name is Insha and she lost both eyes a few months ago while watching protesters and troops skirmish.

"We as photographers observe, capture and share using a method exclusively based on one sense — our sight. Taking a portrait of someone who lost her eyesight was a new communication exercise to me. This time, we used words and our hands so we all could understand.

"We mounted a small portable photo studio near the family house with a dark background and some strobes. I shot a few stills, but only one stood out to me. I felt this spontaneous gesture was an open window to Insha’s life — a brave teenager full of doubts trying to find her place."


In this Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2016 photo, people stand in front of a fashion advertisement along a downtown street in Hong Kong. (AP Photo/Vincent Yu)

Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark IV  Lens: EF24-70mm f/2.8L II USM Focal length: 44mm  F-Stop: 6.3  ISO speed: 400  Shutter speed: 1/250

From the photographer: "I was on my way to cover a stock market assignment," said Yu, "when I was drawn to this interesting fashion billboard. I thought the huge size and the action of the model would make a good feature picture, but I didn’t have enough time at the moment to make an image. After several days I went back to the same place and waited there for around half an hour to get this interesting picture."


An Indian farmer walks in his field enveloped by thick fog near Hisar, India, Friday, Dec. 23, 2016. In the winter months, northern India experiences fog-enveloped mornings that reduce visibility severely, often leading to delays and cancellation of trains and flights. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)

Model: Canon EOS 5D Mark III  Lens: EF24-105mm f/4L IS USM Focal length: 105mm  F-Stop: 4.0  ISO speed: 1000  Shutter speed: 1/6400

From the photographer: "I was driving with two other AP colleagues heading to an early morning assignment that foggy day," said Qadri. "I was sitting in the front seat next to the driver, and we were passing through villages that were covered in thick fog. Since we had to reach to the other part of the state for a different story, I didn’t have time to stop and take pictures. Whatever I shot, it was through the window of the moving car. It was quite a challenge to achieve proper focus through fog from a moving car. I had to push the ISO to 6400 on an f4 lens. 

"I kept looking for some possible photos that could illustrate how dense the fog was, because it had wreaked havoc across northern India — throwing air, rail and road traffic into chaos during that week. As we were driving I saw something like a human figure walking next to two trees covered in thick fog and soon realized that he was a farmer. Since we were moving fast I could only take a few photos of this scene before we had passed him.”


Suzuki car driver Tim Coronel, of the Netherlands, is covered in dirt after completing the second stage of the Dakar Rally, between Resistencia and San Miguel de Tucuman, Argentina, Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2017. The race started in Paraguay and will pass through Bolivia as well. (AP Photo/Martin Mejia)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X  Lens: EF40mm f/2.8 STMFocal length: 40mm  F-Stop: 2.8  ISO speed: 100  Shutter speed: 1/400

From the photographer: "The driver was exhausted,” said Meija. "It was a super warm area: 45 degrees Celsius. Unlike the other competitors, his vehicle did not have a front glass, neither air conditioning nor other equipment that the majority of the participants had. I took the photo at the finish line of the second stage between Resistencia and Tucuman. I was standing in front of the car, with a 70-200mm lens zoomed in on his face. 

"That day, the helicopter that transported us had to leave to help in an emergency in the race and left us stranded there for hours, with only our cameras and some water. After some time, it got really hot and I felt just like the driver: hot and covered in dust.”


Revelers celebrate the new year as confetti flies over New York's Times Square as seen from the Marriott Marquis, Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017. (AP Photo/Mary Altaffer)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X Mark II  Lens: EF70-200mm f/2.8L IS II USM Focal length: 200mm  F-Stop: 5.6  ISO speed: 6400  Shutter speed: 1/400

From the photographer: "I was one of three photographers assigned to shoot the New Year’s Eve celebration in Times Square," said Altaffer. "Two of the photographers were to shoot revelers celebrating on the ground; my position was to shoot the overhead wide shot of the confetti falling over Times Square during the ball drop. 

"The Marriott Marquis has a balcony overlooking Times Square they rent out to television crews for their New Years broadcast. They also allow a few photographers and a crew of confetti throwers to work from the balcony. As the clock struck midnight and the confetti started to fly, I shot a few frames wide and then switched to the 70-200 to make this tighter version showing the confetti falling on the revelers. The challenge in making the photo was that the falling confetti doesn’t last very long and completely throws off the camera’s auto focus. The trick was to quickly find and lock the focus on the revelers and make pictures before the confetti stopped falling.”


Seagulls fly at the beach of the Baltic Sea in Timmendorfer Strand, Germany, Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2016. (AP Photo/Michael Probst)

Model: Canon EOS-1D X  Lens: EF15mm f/2.8 FisheyeFocal length: 15mm                    F-Stop: 11.0  ISO speed: 1600  Shutter speed: 1/1250

From the photographer: "I took that picture at the beach of Timmendorfer Strand at the Baltic Sea in northern Germany," said Probst. "I was there for Christmas vacation with my family. When we went to the beach there was an elderly couple feeding the seagulls with bread. I asked them if it was OK if I stood right next to them and took a couple of pictures. I already had a camera with a wide angle with me because it happens that once in a while someone is feeding seagulls."

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.

Follow AP photographers on Twitter

See these photos on APImages

Spotlight is the blog of AP Images, the world’s largest collection of historical and contemporary photos.

Written content on this site is not created by the editorial department of AP, unless otherwise noted. 

Visual artist and Digital Storyteller at The Associated Press