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Tuesday, 15 February 2011


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From dental appointments to exclusive coverage of one of the world's most historic events...gotta love TOP. And bravo to Peter, one more time.


Without trying to get into an argument or degrade Peter's talent, I'll say I haven't been all that impressed by his photos from Brazil and Spain. These from Egypt, however, I am very impressed with. I suspect Peter's strength lies in covering political events, not national festivities. Please, Peter, stick with that!

I too am hopeful and happy for the Egyptian people, and my wish is that these events inspire citizens in other countries to say enough!. I would like Peter and his camera to be in these countries too.

Thanks, Mike, for being Peter's news agency.

Simple citizens might just be able to achieve in Northern Africa and the Middle-East what decades of warmongering (both cold and "hot") could not...

Here's to "hoping and insisting on being happy"!


Thanks for that Peter. It's an amazing event that perhaps hasn't fully sunk in over here in the U.S. Still unfolding too, with the "threat of a good example" domino effect. The hope and happiness I hear in reports is incredible.

Looks like you didn't have to pull out your new sock camera, which is good.

Follow the smoke, Peter. On to Algeria, Jordan, Yemen. Return to Egypt next year when the military is still in power and people are back in the streets mad-as-hell.

Wow, Peter, you certainly do seem to have a passport to history. Surely you must be the Forrest Gump of photojournalists!

Great photographs!

Damn, I wish I could just jet off to wherever in the world something's happening, and shoot such iconic images. Oh well, dream on...

I just hope the revolution in Egypt doesn't end up the way so many of them do--in disappointment and disillusionment, with the "new boss, same as the old boss," taking over.

Wonderful work, *real* photography. Great copy, too.

There's just no substitute for solid photojournalism and we are all indebted to a few talented individuals like Peter who are prepared to lay everything on the line.

What a great pity this will never be seen by the down-trodden peoples of Iran and N. Korea.

Thank you for the coverage, nice set of images, though I think 24mm just isn't wide enough for shots of this nature. To me it seems the framing should have been much, much wider; too tight for my taste. Also, no flash? Sorry if I'm being a spoiled sport, it's just my opinion.

What a pity that Mubarak was supported financially and militarely by the good old USA in maintaning his evil regime,makes you wonder doesn't it?

Wonderful photographs. So which camera did Peter use, particularly in the night scenes: the secret point-and-shoot or the unnamed camera he intended to sacrifice to the guards? Also, in a follow up post, perhaps, would he talk about how he works: Does he stay in the Square day and night, rely on an interpreter, engage people or shoot without introductions? How much does he study about a situation in advance, or is his style to learn by being there and work without expectations?

Just Incredible Reporting!

Thank you Peter and Mike for bringing this to us.

Well, hm, .....yes. I think I saw it on TV.

Very impressive work, thanks for sharing Peter. The only thing that would have made this cooler was if Mike had labeled this post "Despatches from Egypt" and included a photo of himself hunched over an ancient telegraph, cigarette in hand.

Speaking of technology, I'm guessing the nighttime pictures would have been much more difficult, if not impossible, without the D700.

I risk being considered rude, but to me, the photos are somehow very similar, and very few are striking. They are good photographs, but they lack the feel of being iconic. Maybe it's from following the Iconic Photo blog too much lately, or from my exposure to majoli's work http://www.newsweek.com/photo/2011/02/13/egypt-protesters-agony-ecstasy.html and also cesuralab's great reportage http://www.cesuralab.com/projects_gal.php?p=255&pag=1 I understand that Peter is considered as a major photojournalist, so, when compared with the best of the bunch, IMHO, he fails this round.

As some of these photos show up in their dead-tree published forms, could we try to keep a little track of their whereabouts? Newsweek, for sure, but other outlets as well? (Darn cool that TOP has been their first visibility!)

This is a very fine set of photos. You've made a lot of good uses of the flags that were all around, and I like the group of night photos a lot.

Your timing in getting there at the precise right moment, staying in the right hotel, and so forth shows superb skill too. Sure, "luck", too, but I can recognize the signs of somebody both encouraging, and prepared to exploit, luck when it turns up.

Must have been quite an experience!

And, best wishes to Egypt! These transitions are always dicey, even if they're badly needed.

The more I look the more "decisive moments" I find. Great timing!

How lucky are we?

Wonderful photographs, and I'm impressed with Peter's ability to get to the heart of the action. I'm sure we'll see further similar scenes in other neighbouring countries within the next few months.

Also, kudos to TOP for the breadth of your subject matter. On a tiny housekeeping note, however, could I ask Mike if once this post moves off the uppermost few in the post list, could you compress the images a little? I only ask as I'm on dial up and it has taken 35 minutes for the page to properly load!

As well executed as these photographs are, they're anticlimatic. The crucial part of the story happened about a week earlier.

Many thanks for this beautifully done, moving and visually striking reportage.

Totally disagree. The crucial part of the story is not the demonstrations; it's the results of the demonstrations. Think of Tiananmen Square, where the protests went on for a similar length of time but were brutally repressed. Would that story have been adequately told by a set of pictures of peaceful demonstrators from a week before the crackdown occurred? No.

The situation in Tahrir Square reached its zenith at 6 p.m. on February 11th, when Peter's picture #18 and the images following were taken--when Mubarak stepped down and the population (many more than were protesting, BTW) poured into the streets for an all-night celebration.

That's half the amazement of this set of pictures, that Peter, having only a 3-day window in Egypt, managed, with skill, experience, intuition and luck, to hit the exact right moment to be there.


"I think I saw it on TV."

This is not a website about TV. You'd have to look elsewhere for that.


Thanks for these images, Peter. Just wonderfully captured moments.

On a journey to Egypt, just over a year ago, I found Egyptians to be very welcoming, and quite happy to be the subjects of my photos. I wish them well for the future.

Aside from political considerations, these images have both an eye for gentle, elegant composition, but also beauty amongst the chaos. I like them ..., and many years since I was amongst the nameless rabble, but a lot of hope and empathy for Egypt, right now.

Bron, former rabble rouser, and still on some FBI lists.

Peter has the same "humanist" feel that Henri Huet had. That's all.


Excellent Peter,

It's days like (certainly not limited to) this the make me very happy to be a paid subscriber even if it's a small amount.

Great stuff.

Beautiful, thanks Mike and Peter. A link TOP will be going to a lot of my non-photographer friends.
Terrific work

Simply remarkable. Who'd have thought we'd see them here first?

Great job all the way around.

Amazing feel for the situation. Beautiful recording of history in the making . This is a group of photographs that requires careful inspection to see the depth presented.

The fact that Peter created this in just a few days and was able to "skip to the good part " is pretty great .

Usually like Peter's stuff but these were boring and sterile.

In response to a couple of the comments on Peter's photos, I have to say that sometimes I get tired of photojournalists' tireless quest for the iconic image. "It's not poignant enough !" I think I overdosed on "poignant" watching NBCs coverage of the Olympics. Sometimes, when looking at trying-to-be-iconic images, I get the feeling I'm being deprived of the opportunity to see what's really there. It's great when a photographer finds a scene that represents an event, but not so great when photographers try too hard, and we get cliches. I think Peter's photos illustrate the event beautifully.

Great to see so many so happy.

I appreciate the behind-the-scenes insight about getting into Egypt with the photography equipment. I am curious as to the tactics/experience in getting these photographs out of Egypt in a "safe" way (not that I'll ever need that information - am just curious).

All the best - thanks.

Yet another reason to love this blog.

Very nice photos. I understand why folks want to dump a guy who won't give up power. I do wonder if a military take over is the proverbial frying pan into the fire kind of situation. Some general may decide he likes the power. Sometimes the devil you know, ya know?

i think the pictures are oversaturated.


This is not a website about TV. You'd have to look elsewhere for that.<

Mike, I tried to express that the pics -in my view- are pretty average. I miss a particular 'photographic quality' - composition foremost.

Luka Knezevic,
not every good photojournalism must be iconic!
The photo sets to which you linked are taken not only with different styles but also in several moments of the protests and even in different places, while Peter Turnley shot exclusively in Tahrir square in the very last days of the events. Second, perhaps you naturally lean towards monochrome since one of the reportage is in black and white while the other has a very dramatic use of light that makes colours of minor importance. Black and white and drama shouldn't be the criteria to make great otherwise good photos. Third, the most important part is that the subjects are quite different. In Peter Turnley's work you can see a whole range of people who doesn't appear in the other reportages: thanks to him we can see a lot of women and families with their children and that does change our perception of the situation on the field and of the atmosphere in the square in those last decisive days (look at the interaction between army and people for example).
So, in a few words, even though it can be surprising to you, you compared apples and oranges: different great photojournalists covered the same event in different ways and different moments producing different but equally worthy and necessary results.
Personally I liked this set of photo and especially the night shots. To answer another commenter who questioned the use of a particular focal length and no flash, all these elements belong to someone's artistic vision: there are no rules like right focal length, right light and right white balance, sorry!

Hi Mike,
Thanks to you and Peter Turnley we have the opportunity to witness history unfolding. Every day is important for some reason, even if only to certain individuals. (E.g. Our birthday or the birthdays of our children.) But some dates are critical to the history of our planet. I think that February 11-13, 2011 will be known to future generations as a pivotal point in world history. Very often we go on day by day with nothing much happening and then, all of a sudden, some event happens which will change the direction of human existence. The events in Egypt, following the revolution in Tunisia, and very likely triggering similar changes in other Mid-eastern nations will profoundly affect the United States and the world. Will this bring a safer world or a more dangerous one? Time will tell, as they say.
A few dates will illustrate my point. (This list is by no means complete of course.)
6-28-1914: Archduke Ferdinand assassinated (World War I)
10-28, 29, 1929: Stock market crash (Great Depression)
9-1-1939: Invasion of Poland (World War II)
12-7-1941: Pearl Harbor attack (US enters WWII)
8-6-1945: Atomic Bomb dropped on Hiroshima
11-22-1963: President Kennedy assassinated
The year 1968: Bobby, Martin and the Chicago convention
The list could be 10 or 100 times longer.
We don’t know what the long term impact of these events will be. We can only hope and pray that our world will be a safer place and that the people of Tunisia and Egypt will enjoy freedom and stability.
Once again, thanks for making these images available.
M.G. Van Drunen

@ Mike: "Peter, having only a 3-day window in Egypt, managed, with skill, experience, intuition and luck, to hit the exact right moment to be there."

Isn't this the meaning of the advice, "f/8 and be there"?

My favourites are No. 30, where an exuberant lady stands on front of a tank covered in children, and No. 4, where a poster of Mubarak has been altered to make him resemble a certain Austrian dictator. Made me chuckle.

Where still photographs triumph over video is where we can study the faces and body language of the participants in the event. We can study each still picture for as long as a video report lasts, and get so much more understanding of what it is like to be these people, at that event.

@Luka Knezevic
The Majoli pictures are great also. But after a short while I noticed that much of the dramatic feeling in the night photos was created not by the light of Egypt, but by the light of the photographer. And although Majoli manages his flashlight superbly, once I've noticed it's being used, it puts me off a little. IMHO the photographer should be as absent as a visible factor from his/her subject as possible - and that includes flashlight. To me, a special quality of the Turnley pictures is that he manages to do without.

Honestly, I'm glad the situation in Egypt has been covered as well as it has...but for me it reached the point of saturation pretty quickly. I consider myself a better than average-informed American and was very interested in the story early on,...but I also follow photography all over the web and so was freakin' *bombarded* by photographs from the events pretty quickly...and they all started to look very much the same, save for technical quality (some people are clearly still using original 1Ds at night =) ...so I stopped looking at pictures and just tuned in here and there to NPR, which is pretty same-y also.
At any rate, I wasn't going to bother with this particular post, but somehow right here on TOP, I've found some of the actual best photography from Tahrir Square...good p/j, some nice 'human' moments, and actual techical ability. Who knew?
PS...as much as I love photography and radio...this story was best covered in video...the situation was just too far removed (imo) to fully understand with 9 kabillion still photos of exotic women waving tastefully out of focus flags and the same exact news report over and over. One well-edited hour of video would have brought it home nicely.

I just hope this revolution doesn't lead to the increasing Islamification of Egypt. There is some evidence to suggest a strong Muslim influence was a driving force behind the demonstrations. A poll conducted in Egypt last year found the following which doesn't bode well for the country's future or human rights in general:

Fifty nine percent said they backed Islamists and only 27% said they backed modernisers. Half of Egyptians supported Hamas. Thirty percent supported Hizbullah and 20% supported al Qaida. Ninety-five percent would welcome Islamic influence over their politics. Eighty-two percent of
Egyptians supported executing adulterers by stoning and 77% supported
whipping and cutting the hands off thieves. Eighty-four percent supported executing any Muslim
who changes his religion.

Wonderful, wonderful coverage, Peter. I can feel the anticipation, anxiety, jubilation, relief and faint uncertainty as I read the account and admired the wonderful, intimate photos.

I really like these pictures, and am very happy to see them here, gathered in such form. It is rare that in print media we see more than a few images, and rarely this many at a time.

Photographs can work in many different ways, and Peter's tell a story. As said before, not every picture needs to be an 'iconic' shot, whatever that means, and if very shot tried to be 'iconic' I feel we tire more quickly. These photos, assembled as they are, give an excellent feeling of being in the midst of Tahrir Square, without being more dramatic themselves than the events at hand; one of their strengths is that they do not draw an excess of attention to themselves as photographs, which I think is a great asset of Mr. Turnley's journalism.

just an FYI. I'm looking at the site on an iPad and about half the images are displaying as broken links: no photo, just a question mark. The last visible photo is the men praying.

My heart in my hands to you, Peter Turnley. Such a beautiful photo story, giving us access from so many angles and perspectives. Thank you!

Without a doubt my favorite is the shot of the memorial photographs being photographed by people's cell phone cameras. Why, because I live in Tucson, Az. right across the street from UMC where I watched the memorial to the people recently shot here develop. The power of something like that is not really describable in words, you either need to be there or see a great photo of it like this one or the one you may have taken on your phone while being there. It is interesting following Peter on FaceBook and TOP, I felt just a bit more connected to the events in Egypt than I otherwise might have. As I said many time on FB, thanks for being there for us Peter!

The pictures remind me very much of the fall of the Berlin wall.

These photos show only one side of the coin. Here's the dark side of the jubilation in the Tahrir square:

She replied, "Of course I am worried. We all are. But this is a moment of hope, and I haven’t felt hope for so many years. We need to take this step by step. But for now, I insist on feeling happy!"

Hooray for humanity!

Thanks to Peter for flying to Egypt and obtaining these engaging and illuminating photos.


It would be impossible to get a bad image in this situation.

"It would be impossible to get a bad image in this situation. "

I'm sure if you tried you could do it.


?TOP is a daily news website for photo enthusiasts, in blog format."

Which sums up this particular event.

Politicians who ever they may be, think they may be or are; come and go. As much as the days of the week, months of a year and years of our existence.

So too the methods by which we the outsider receive such changes.

Therefore we all criticize and all do so
oblivious to our thoughts whatever they may be.

Thanks be to Mike Johnston for providing the outlet.

I really enjoyed looking at Peter's Egypt pictures on my Mac Pro.

One problem is that I usually prefer to read Online Photographer on my iPad. With the number of photos in this post the images on my iPad gave out long before the end of the article (same thing happens with The Big Picture site that Rob Galbraith frequently points to). Perhaps the next iPad with double the RAM (512- up from 256MB) may accommodate The Big Picture and postings like this but it would be great for those who may not be upgrading for iPad 2 if mega-picture posts could be split into more than one page.

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