How to build your skills to be a conflict photographer
Photographers and media people have always been exposed to huge risk to cover stories in a war zone. Nowadays the risk has exponentially growth with ISIS using abduction as one of their money source.
With over 15 years of experience of living and working in conflict zones, Jason P. Howe, put together a team made of many volunteers, a professional soldier and two other world class conflict photographers, Louie Palu and Andrew Stainbridge. The aim is to create a unique model of workshop for aspiring war photographers. The Conflict Photography Workshop, in the hill of Andalusia on southern Spain, over 7 days offers to a small group of participants both theoretical and practical training. For the firsts days the theory is going from Battle Field First Aid Drills and IED awareness through to editing, captioning and ethical behavior as well as how to work, survive and maintain themselves and their equipment in the field whilst covering combat operations, topped with many war stories in the evening from the instructors. The adrenaline is high after 4 days and everything is becoming practical on the last 3 days of workshop. Students are ready to be put outside in a simulated combat operation between a rebel camp and British soldiers built with extreme precision.
At the first noise of the first unexpected IED explosion dissolves fiction into reality-like action, people start to scream and react to the accumulate adrenaline. Amputee bodies are on the ground and many casualty to deal with, guts of animals are used to simulate open stomachs and blood is squirting on the faces of the students.
The tension never stop: casualty in state of shock, snipers shooting during the night, interrogations and even a simulated air attack against the village is part of the scenario. Confusion, panic, fear and so many efforts make the students tired day by day. Everything is well orchestrated by ‘Soldier A’ leading all the operations with the necessary authority to stop the simulation in case something is going wrong.
Pure adrenaline sprinkles the face of students, instructors and fighters and uncontrolled reactions test everyone and create a sort of war game for war photographers, a good occasion to understand if you are directly proportional to a conflict environment.
At the end of the 2014 workshop almost all participants they understand that conflict is not a good business for them, while one student feels readier and motivated to become a war photographer.
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