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Final Editthe image we rescued from the cutting room floor

Illustrations editor Susan Welchman tells why the photo had too much of a good thing for the article.

Cut It?
“This picture is so bright that it stuck out,” says illustrations editor Susan Welchman. “It just didn’t fit with the sedate daily life and the brown, earthy, architectural beauty conveyed in the other photos that were chosen for the article.”

Or Keep It?
“The motion of the paddles, the splashing water, the intense concentration on the men’s faces, and yes, the brightness, gave this photo a lot of energy,” Welchman continued. “Plus, the men look wonderful in their white garments, so we wanted to use the picture somewhere. Final Edit was the perfect place.”

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Photograph by Sarah Leen To send this image as a postcard click here.

Team Spirit
Paddles send water flying as men drive to win a canoe race near Djénné on Mali’s Independence Day, September 22. Photographer Sarah Leen got the shot by renting a small outboard and drawing in as close as she dared: “They were paddling so fast and with such spirit; you wanted to get the picture but not get in the way—God forbid, they’d kill you.” Leen had only a short time to photograph before judges, concerned about her boat’s wake, ordered her to the back of the race. Leen likens the contest—the high point of Djénné’s most important secular holiday—to the Super Bowl. “It was a big deal. It was very competitive.” Yet the picture also reflects daily life around Djénné, which much of the year is surrounded by the floodwaters of the Bani. “The races stem from a tradition of using the river as a highway,” Leen says.

Glide into the feature story this photo was originally taken for.
Sarah Leen Zoom In for more images by Sarah Leen.

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