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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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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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