Calling Charles Dharapak a White House photographer wouldn’t really do him justice. Over his 20 years with the Associated Press he worked in Southeast Asia and later he covered the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in 2002. But the truth is that since 2003 he’s been settled in Washington covering the busy political hive.
Photographing politics can be dreary. The presser starts, the official is 20–200 minutes late, they arrive, stand behind a podium and some microphones, talk, and leave. Rinse and repeat.
It is all the more impressive then that Charles Dharapak managed to spice up his career with so many interesting shots that transformed occasions that might otherwise be commonplace into eye-catching images, even playful at times.
Dharapak was born in New York and studied print journalism and economics at New York University. In 2012 he was designated Still Photographer of the year by the White House News Photographer’s Association. He also won 1st place in the National Press Photographers Association Best of Photojournalism General News Single Category.
Here we bring you a selection of photos mostly portraying President Barack Obama, his administration, and other scenes from Washington’s abundant political life, yet from a perspective that often eludes newspaper pages. Mixed in are some scenes of daily life in Nation’s capital, with the notion of the government presence sometimes subtly suggested in the background.
Of course, photographing the president may bring some little perks like accompanying him on a trip or two to some exotic destinations like Malaysia, or just around Europe, or perhaps Hawaii. But that’s just a part of the job–and there’s not enough time for sightseeing anyway.

Best news photos of the day from around the world. Learn what’s going on in the fastest, most straightforward way through the lens of news photographers.

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Felipe Dana is not only an excellent photojournalist, but also a master of perspective. I mean, he gets the great shots in a great way. Sometimes novel, sometimes artistic, and sometimes imbuing the image with an additional meaning.
He was born in Rio de Janeiro in 1985 and set out on his journey as a photographer 15 years later as an assistant to other photographers.
In 2009 he moved on to professional photojournalism. He’s been covering sporting events, carnivals, celebrations—all the glamour one associates with Brazil. But again and again his focus was drawn to the murky side of the metropolis—the slums.
Before the 2014 World Cup, the Brazilian government funneled thousands of military police and soldiers to slums to break drug gangs’ grip over the areas. Before the 2016 Olympics lot of the slums were supposed to be rebuilt. None of this is coming easy and Dana has been around to show us as an Associated Press staff photographer.
In 2013, his picture of a crying 15 years old crack-addicted girl in one of the slums earned him World Press Photo award.
Yet Dana also found many examples of joy inside the slums, sprawling life despite all adversities. And that is Rio as well.
From another point of view, it seems unusual for a professional photographer to stay so laser-focused on one locale. Looking at his photos taken over the years, Dana has the ability to carve out a complete picture of Rio in our minds. So let him!
As always. I’d be glad for your comments. Would you like to see more of Felipe Dana’s work? Or do you have another photographer in mind whose work the world should see?

Week in Photos August 14-20

Thursday, 20 August 2015 by

A look into the world through photos from the week of Aug 14-20.

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Jacquelyn Martin has a special knack for photography. She’s been covering the White House bustle for The Associated Press, but, to be honest, I’m even more impressed by her shots of the daily life in Washington, D.C.
She studied photojournalism at the Rochester Institute of Technology and graduated in 2001. After some internships she got a position at a local paper in Alabama, but the paper went under after three years. Year later she landed a position with the AP in Washington, D.C.
Martin’s personal projects often focus on women and children in tough situations. Like her photo essay on the plight of Albinos in Tanzania or migrants dangerously crossing Mexico on top of freight trains to reach the United States.
This little selection, however, mostly follows her, perhaps more mundane, days in the nation’s capital.
But OK. Since Martin also travels around the world following the Secretary of State diplomatic missions, I slipped in one picture she took in Korea, but it was just too cute not to include and besides, it kind of proves a point I’m about to make here.
So why I liked these photos? Because they are technically masterful, yet imaginative and keep a certain human touch. And that can be very challenging to bring forth while covering politics all the time.
Martin is also the President of the Women Photojournalists of Washington, an organization offering a supportive community to fellow female photojournalists in the D.C. area.
So what do you think of Jacquelyn Martin? Would you like to see more of her work? Or is there another photographer you’d like to learn more about?

Deadly Bangkok Bombing in 20 Images

Monday, 17 August 2015 by

BANGKOK—A bomb exploded Monday within a central Bangkok shrine that is among the city’s most popular tourist spots, killing at least 18 people and injuring more than 100 across a hectic intersection surrounded by five-star hotels and upscale shopping malls.
With a powerful flash caught on security video and a boom heard blocks away, the blast from the improvised explosive device scattered body parts across Rachaprasong intersection, spattered blood, blasted windows and burned motorbikes to the metal. It exploded during evening rush hour as the area was filled with tourists, office workers and shoppers.
“Suddenly there was a big boom, and the whole room just shook, like someone dropped a wrecking ball on top of our ceiling,” said Pim Niyomwan, an English instructor working on the eighth floor of the building right next to the shrine. “The whole building just shook. My four students were hysterical.”
Video shortly after the blast depicts a scene of shock and desperation: people running for their lives and crying amid the debris. An emergency worker in an ambulance, frantically pounding the chest of a victim.
No one immediately claimed responsibility for the bombing.
“Those who have planted this bomb are cruel,” said national police chief Somyot Poompummuang. “They aim to kill because everyone knows that at 7 p.m. the shrine is crowded with Thais and foreigners. Planting a bomb there means they want to see a lot of dead people.”
At least 18 people were confirmed dead and 117 injured, according to the Narinthorn emergency medical rescue center. The dead included Chinese and a Filipino, Somyot said.
As a single, devastating blow to this Southeast Asian metropolis, Monday’s bombing has no equal in recent history, though Thailand is no stranger to violent attacks. A more-than-decade-long insurgency by southern Muslim separatists has left more than 5,000 dead far from the capital. In Bangkok, politically charged riots centered on this very intersection in 2010 killed more than 90 over two months.
Police said the bomb was made with a pipe wrapped in cloth. Police said it was too soon to determine the motive.
“We still don’t know for sure who did this and why,” Deputy Prime Minister Prawit Wongsuwon told reporters. “We are not sure if it is politically motivated, but they aim to harm our economy and we will hunt them down.”
The bomb detonated at Erawan Shrine, which is dedicated to the Hindu god Brahma, but is extremely popular among Thailand’s Buddhists as well as Chinese tourists. Although Thailand is predominantly Buddhist, it has enormous Hindu influence on its religious practices and language.
The shrine, adjacent to a five-star hotel, is at the intersection of two major arteries in the city. Throngs of tourists come there to pray at all hours, lighting incense and offering flowers purchased from rows of stalls set up on the sidewalk along the shrine. The site is a hubbub of activity, with quiet worshippers sometimes flanked by Thai dancers hired by those seeking good fortune, while groups of tourists shuffle in and out.
Bangkok has been relatively peaceful since a military coup ousted a civilian government in May last year after several months of sometimes violent political protests against the previous government. Anusit Kunakorn, secretary of the National Security Council, said Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha, the former army chief who orchestrated the May 2014 coup, was closely monitoring the situation.
At the same time, the military government has tightly controlled dissent, arresting hundreds of its opponents and banning protests. Tensions have risen in recent months, with the junta making clear that it may not hold elections until 2017 and wants a constitution that will allow some type of emergency rule to take the place of an elected government.
Stirring the pot has been exiled former Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, who was ousted in a 2006 coup. It was his sister Yingluck Shinawatra who was ousted as prime minister last year.
Last week, Thaksin posted a message on YouTube urging his followers to reject the draft constitution because he said it was undemocratic. The draft charter is supposed to be voted on next month by a special National Reform Council. If it passes, it is supposed to go to a public referendum around January.
Another source of recent tension is the annual military promotion list, with the junta’s top two leaders — Prime Minister Prayuth and Deputy Prime Minister Prawit — widely believed to be supporting different candidates. The reshuffle, which comes into effect in September, has traditionally been a source of unrest, as different cliques in the army, usually defined by their graduating class in the military academy, seek the most important posts to consolidate their power.
The U.S. Embassy in Bangkok issued an emergency message for U.S. citizens, advising them to avoid the shrine’s area.
Tourists reacted with concern.
“We didn’t think anything like this could happen in Bangkok,” said Holger Siegle, a German who said he and his newly wed wife had chosen Thailand because it seemed safe. “Our honeymoon and our vacation will go on, but with a very unsafe feeling.”
While bombings are rare in Bangkok, they are more common where the Muslim separatist insurgency has been flaring: in the country’s three Muslim-majority provinces in the deep south.
In March this year, several arrests were made in connection with a grenade that was tossed at Bangkok’s Criminal Court. Those detained were apparently sympathizers of the pro-Thaksin Red Shirt movement. Critics of the current military government say some of the bombings may have been carried out by the junta to justify its continued suppression of basic rights and liberties. The government denies that.
In April, a car bomb exploded at a shopping mall on the resort island of Samui, injuring seven people. The motive was unclear, though the government suggested it was linked to politics.
The last major bombings in Bangkok occurred on New Year’s Eve at the end of 2006, when a series of bombs at celebrations around town killed at least three people and wounded dozens. Those bombings occurred just three months after a military coup ousted Thaksin, and there was speculation that his supporters carried out the attacks in revenge. However, the bombings were never solved.
The 2006 coup set off a battle for power among Thaksin’s supporters and opponents, sometimes in the form of violent protests. Protesters from both sides sometimes faced armed attacks by unknown groups, with more than 90 people killed in 2010 during pro-Thaksin demonstrations that were quashed by the army. The focus of the 2010 protests was the same intersection where Monday’s blast took place.
Erawan Shrine itself also has been a scene of violence. In March 2006, a man who smashed the statue of the four-headed Brahma with a hammer. The man, believed to be mentally ill, was lynched by bystanders. A new Brahma statue was installed at the shrine within months.

The Bahamas, the Commonwealth nation of hundreds of islands roughly the size of Connecticut and with population of just a bit over Anaheim, is known for its crystal waters and pristine beaches—and its swimming pigs.
It is unclear when the pigs first appeared on Exuma Island or where they come from. There’s talk about a (daring) escape from a shipwreck, or sailors releasing the swine on purpose. In all probability, there were no pigs on this tropical paradise before European settlers came, so their mere presence is the work of human. The intriguing feat of nature, however, is that this population of pigs developed a fine aptitude for swimming.
Water’s good today. (Lisa Larsen/Public Domain/CC0 1.0)
“It’s unreal,” commented Capt. Jerry Lewless of Capt. Jerry Tours in a short documentary called “When Pigs Swim.”
Some two dozen pigs and piglets cruise the pristine waters of Exuma, surviving on what the locals and stream of tourists give them. Yes, unlike squirrels in the Central Park, these animals you’re allowed to feed. And boy, do people take advantage?
“The rest of the tour is really the beauty of Exuma, but the swimming pigs are the drawing card,” said Capt. Raymond Lightbourn of Exuma Water Sports in the documentary.
That’s right. This is possibly one of the world’s most beautiful havens of nature, yet people are coming here to see pigs.
And who can blame them? We’re just so easy to be distracted by the unusual. I mean, what if I told you there’s a photo gallery called “Top 10 Tight Fitting Animals Wearing Jeans” and the first picture is a pug? Ok, here’s the gallery. See?

Hundreds of couples gathered in Times Square to celebrate the victory over Japan in World War II the same way one of the American sailors did 70 years ago—by a kiss.
The reference is, of course, to the picture by photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, taken in Times Square right after President Harry S. Truman announced on August 14, 1945, that Japan had surrendered.
Despite a cheerful atmosphere, today’s recreation wasn’t altogether accurate, since Eisenstaedt remembered the sailor grabbed a woman he didn’t know. This time, participants were specifically encouraged to come with a partner or, at the very least, ask for permission.

CALAIS, France—After fleeing their homes in places like Sudan and Afghanistan, migrants gathered in the northern French port city of Calais endure another kind of misery in a huge and squalid makeshift camp or in scattered open-air outposts.
Each night, they try to finish the final 31 miles (50 kilometers) of their journey by sneaking across the English Channel to settle in Britain.
The main “jungle,” as the camps are known, is a wind-swept stretch of scrubland surrounded by sand dunes where they take shelter under small tents or tarp held up with sticks. Amenities are almost non-existent.
At dusk, migrants converge in fields or on highways in a bid to sneak through Eurotunnel’s security net, cutting holes in fences, or climbing over them, and trying to outsmart security forces. Like shadows, they walk train tracks leading to the mouth of the tunnel.
“We plan like soldiers,” said Khan Tarakhil, who came from Afghanistan. But in the end, he says, “it’s all about luck.”
Here is a gallery of images by Emilio Morenatti, chief photographer for The Associated Press in Spain and Portugal, recounting migrants’ lives in Calais.

SEATTLE—Buck Showalter kept waiting for Hisashi Iwakuma to miss a spot.
Just one miss would potentially be enough for Baltimore to get back in the game and possibly finish off a long road trip out west on a winning note.
Iwakuma never offered up that mistake. He wasn’t perfect. But the Seattle right-hander was never touched.
“He didn’t miss. You could count two or three pitches he got in an area he didn’t want to,” Showalter said. “Some of the anxiety builds on you. It’s in a pitcher’s favor when you try and do too much.”
Iwakuma became the second Japanese-born pitcher in major league history to throw a no-hitter, leading the Mariners to a 3-0 victory over the Orioles on Wednesday.
The right-hander struck out seven and walked three in the fourth no-hitter this season and first by an American League pitcher in nearly three years. Hideo Nomo threw two no-no’s after starting his career in his home country of Japan, including one against Baltimore in 2001 while pitching for Boston.
Teammate Felix Hernandez’s perfect game against the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 15, 2012, was the last time an AL pitcher did not allow a hit in a game. There have been 11 individual no-hitters and one combined no-hitter by NL pitchers since then.
With Mariners fans on their feet and cheering, Iwakuma got Gerardo Parra to line out softly to center fielder Austin Jackson for the first no-hitter against Baltimore since Boston’s Clay Buchholz did it in 2007. Baltimore has been no-hit seven times.
“It’s not just a normal loss. We’re going down in the history books on the bad side of a no-hitter,” Baltimore’s Adam Jones said. “But tip your cap. Iwakuma threw his game.”
Third baseman Kyle Seager made a nifty, twisting over-the-shoulder catch in foul territory to start the ninth, but the 34-year-old Iwakuma needed little help in completing his first career complete game and the Mariners’ fifth no-hitter.
After his 116th pitch settled in Jackson’s glove, Iwakuma was mobbed by his teammates. Hernandez was wearing a fuzzy bear hat that was handed out as a promotion earlier in the season to honor Iwakuma.
“I can’t find the words to express my feelings,” Iwakuma said through an interpreter after the fourth no-hitter in the major leagues this season. “I’m truly happy.”
Philadelphia’s Cole Hamels — prior to his trade to Texas — Washington’s Max Scherzer and San Francisco’s Chris Heston all tossed no-hitters this season.
Iwakuma was not overpowering because that’s not his style. He used a biting splitter and precise location to keep the Orioles guessing. Baltimore’s best chance at a hit came on Parra’s groundball with one out in the fourth that nearly dribbled into right field but was gloved by Robinson Cano, who threw across his body to get the out at first.
Iwakuma walked Chris Davis with two outs, but he struck out Jimmy Paredes to end the threat.
Iwakuma also walked Jonathan Schoop on a check-swing, full-count pitch to open the eighth inning. But after striking out Ryan Flaherty looking, Iwakuma got Caleb Joseph to ground into a double play.
David Lough fouled out to open the ninth with Seager making his remarkable catch. Manny Machado grounded out to Seager for the second out and Parra flew out to shallow center field to end it. Iwakuma initially thought Parra’s fly ball was going to drop until he saw Jackson running with his arm outstretched to squeeze the final out.
“It’s pretty special. I’ve seen a lot. I thought in the fifth inning his stuff was really sharp and his split was coming out crisp. I thought you never know but he may have a shot here,” Seattle manager Lloyd McClendon said.