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5 Tips for Safely Photographing a Dangerous Event

A Guest Post by Chris De Bruyn. WARNING: some images in this post may cause distress to some readers.

It seems that almost every time I turn on the news these days, there is a new massive, potentially dangerous event such as the Arab Spring or Occupy (Major City) Protest. Since moving to Iraq in 2009, I have shot a number of events such as national elections, cockfighting and political protests. While these events can produce very thought provoking photos, there are a number of things to keep in mind when decided whether or not to shoot them.


1. Blend in – Do your best not to stand out. If you are in a foreign country, knowing the local language is a big advantage when photographing a dangerous event. At the very least try to learn phrases such as “Pardon me”, “May I take your photo” and “thank you very much.” Wearing local clothes and ha right kind of facial hair will help as well. Make sure to have credentials/passport on hand in case you are questioned by police.


Don’t go alone – Go with at least one friend and make sure to have your cell phone turned on, ready to dial emergency contacts/police.


Be alert – Be aware of your surroundings at all times. Have a sense omosphere of the crowd and be ready to respond accordingly. Keep an eye out for trouble and take appropriate actions to prevent it.


Know the area – scout out the area before hand if you can. The more familiar you are with a location, the less likely it is than an accident will occur.


Know when to leave – No photo is worth putting your life in danger. If the atmosphere of an event becomes too heated, leave.


Chris De Bruyn is an English lecturer and photography instructor at the American University of Iraq-Sulaimani. His work has been featured on VOA News, The Bay Citizen, BBC, and National Geographic. Feel free to visit his website at www.chrisdebruyn.com

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