A picture and its story

From Syria’s festering conflict to the Bastille Day attack in Nice, Reuters photographers have been on the scene to record the biggest news stories this year.Here  photographers give their accounts of the events behind some of the most striking images of 2016.

Jonathan Bachman: A woman standing calmly, her long dress moving in the breeze, two police officers in full riot gear make their move.
I was on assignment for Reuters in Baton Rouge to cover the protests over the fatal police shooting of Alton Sterling.
Moments before I captured this image of Ieshia Evans I had my back turned photographing face-to-face confrontations between the police and the demonstrators.
I heard someone behind me say something like “don’t stand there, they are arresting people in the street.”
I turned and looked over my right shoulder and saw this woman standing in the road. I knew right away what was about to happen. The police were going to arrest her.
I quickly moved and took the shot.
When I came back to my car and looked through my take I knew I had a strong image. However I didn’t anticipate that the image would go viral. I am grateful that it has stimulated a discussion about an important issue in this country.

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Kai Pfaffenbach: When Usain Bolt prepared for his 100m semi-final I decided to play with slow shutter speed for that race. I set my camera (shutter speed) to a 50th of a second and was waiting for the moment when he passed my position.
In this very right moment he looked to his left with the proud smile and my first thought was: ‘hopefully I got this sharp.’ Well, I’ve been a lucky bunny in this case but I still would not have imagined at this moment that this picture would go viral and get worldwide recognition.

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Brian Snyder: To some, it was as if she had met a celebrity rock star. To others, this woman looked pretty terrified.
In fact Robin Roy is one very eager supporter of US President-elect Donald Trump.
Wearing a t-shirt reading “Obama, You’re Fired.
Vote Trump 2016,” she had waited for a chance to meet Trump in person at the rally. Then the New York real-estate mogul and reality TV star shook her hand and talked to her.
Excited would be an understatement.
All candidates with their eye on the White House greet supporters along the “rope-line” at the end of events like these.
It’s a chance for voters to shake the hand of the candidates or pose for a selfie.
The other people in the photo are also supporters, including Roy’s daughter on her left.
Photographers are fairly restricted by the campaign during Trump events.
Most images are taken from the main podium, at the back of the hall across from the main stage, with long lenses (400mm). After the speech, a small group of photographers were escorted to the stage to document Trump making his way along the rope-line.
I took this photo with a shorter lens (50mm) from the stage looking over Trump’s shoulder.
The fact that every day is unique is one of the truly fun parts of this job.
Roy remained an unwavering Trump supporter throughout the campaign. “We realised that Trump was one of us and he didn’t hide that fact.
Is he perfect? No, but he sincerely seems to care about the people.
He doesn’t talk down to us or make himself seen better.”
Nearly a year after her meeting with Trump, and awaiting the beginning of the Trump presidency, she says, “I hope he comes through with most of his promises and brings this country together to stop the political nonsense.”

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Rodi Said: When US-backed forces seized Souad Hamidi’s village in northern Syria from IS, the 19-year-old swiftly tore off the niqab she had been forced to wear since 2014 and smiled.
“I felt liberated,” Hamidi said after swapping her black face-covering veil for a red headscarf. “They made us wear it against our will so I removed it that way to spite them.”
I was heading to villages that had been retaken by Syrian democratic forces (SDF), and my arrival coincided with the arrival of Hamidi back to her home.
Am Adasa had been under the militants’ control since 2014, when IS proclaimed its caliphate straddling Syria and Iraq.
Under IS, life was strictly regulated, Hamidi said, including dress codes.
“They would punish people who did not follow their rules, sometimes forcing them to stay in dug-out graves for days,” she said. “Since they (SDF) took control, we are living a new life.”
Sitting in her family home, Hamidi said she still fears IS may return one day.
“I want to erase Daesh from my memory,” she said. “I hope every area controlled by Daesh is liberated, that people are free of them and can live like we do now.”
For me this picture expresses Hamidi strength of personality, her reclaiming freedom from the blackness that was forced upon her. Its the moment when one overcomes fear of religious persecution.

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Goran Tomasevic: I had been to the Tahrir district of eastern Mosul several times while covering the campaign by Iraqi forces backed by US-led air strikes to retake the city from IS.
Covering battles is tough and in this case, it was difficult to get to the frontline at times, but on this day we managed. When we arrived it seemed calm and quiet.
Soon after a car blew up in a suicide bombing in an IS counter-attack to the forces’ push into Mosul. There were casualties, children screaming, and several nearby houses were destroyed. There were also clashes.
I have covered many conflicts in my career, but what has struck me in Mosul is the number of car bombings.
The fighting comes in waves and when things eventually quietened down, I saw a group of civilians making the most of a break in gunfire to come out onto the streets.
They were both young and elderly, and felt safe enough to leave their homes with few belongings, walking carefully but calmly towards where I was standing capturing the scenes around me.
Suddenly an air strike targeted IS positions a few hundred metres away behind them. It was close and total panic ensued. People were screaming, ducking and running away as the plumes of smoke rose nearby. They quickly ran for whatever shelter they could find.
I heard the plane just before the airstrike, and from experience knew I had little time. These things happen fast and you have to act quickly. First you have to make sure you are safe, then stay focused so you can get the shot. You get your lens ready and stay calm.
It was one airstrike and residents waited it out before finding other shelter. I eventually moved to another location to continue covering the fighting.

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