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Afghanistan Kabul Press ID

Hi, I’m travelling independently to Afghanistan next month and hope to work as a stringer and supply some pictures to agencies. I will need a press pass but am not a member of any professional bodies in Italy, where I’m from. I was wondering if anyone has had any dealings with either the International Press Association, or GNS Press, or used press cards supplied by either. Also how have other people who have worked in Afghanistan got around this issue? Any advice, information or recommendations would be appreciated
all the best, Roberto

by Roberto Bianconi at 2009-06-15 07:56:26 UTC (ed. Jul 1 2009 ) Italy , Italy | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Hi Roberto.
Your intention is to do an reportage in Kabul only or one “embed”?.If the first case you do not need press pass, but if the second case you will also need proof of your career ( with published work, half letter, …) plus a bulletproof vest and helmet. I must also say that if you expect to amortize the trip to the sale of images will be very difficult, but if you do to have book, then perfect.
One last thing, I don’t know if you have experience in war countries, but Afghanistan is not an easy country to begin with war photography, and now it is dangerous, but if you decide to go, and need information, questions, or more logistic information ( airlines, hotel,… ) send an email and I will help you in whatever I can.


by Ricardo Garcia | 15 Jun 2009 12:06 (ed. May 10 2010) | Barcelona, Spain | | Report spam→
Thanks Ricardo,
for your replay. I know that for work as embedded I will need a Press pass ID and prove my professional skill with published images. Yes, I am starting now and I don’t have any experiences as war photographer and I do not have any agency that support me economically and logistic… the only thing that I have is a small photo agency from south of Italy that will try to sell my images that arrived from Afghanistan, my very high motivations to became a war photographer, wife and two young daughters.

I know that I do not cover all my expenses and also If I will came back safe to Italy nothing will change, but I cannot explain to you or maybe you can understand I don’t know. The only thing that I know is that I have to do that now ! I take to me several years to be ready mentality speaking . I need to see with my eyes and true my lenses what is going on in Afghanistan. I have a lodge in Kabul, fixer and transportations all paid by me , I do not use Bgan satellite to send pictures too expensive for me. If with my pass and a small letter from my small agency I can have access to ISAF or Italian military corps as embedded I will be happy and I will use my bullet proof body armor and helmet otherwise I will remain in Kabul trying to shoot something different about Pre Elections matter or some NGO’s.

I agree with you that the scenario that a choose for my first time in war environment it is the worst one and I should reflect about that but I don’t know any war scenario that don’t have risks. I should remain at home playing with my two little kids and think about other things, but I want to do that even if I will lost my life, I think not only for myself but even for my family and my others.

And yes I have my body armor and helmet, and also I have a lot of fear, but this is something that I need to have with me when I’ll be there.

for your replay, and say hi to Jim.

Many thanks
Roberto Bianconi

by Roberto Bianconi | 15 Jun 2009 13:06 | Italy, Italy | | Report spam→
Hi Roberto. I send a P.M. Ricardo

by Ricardo Garcia | 15 Jun 2009 14:06 (ed. May 10 2010) | Barcelona, Spain | | Report spam→
Thanks Ricardo and thanks Neal, I don’t have enough privileges to send private messages and I can’t see your email to thank you for your words. Anyway my email is rob.bianconi@gmail.com


by Roberto Bianconi | 15 Jun 2009 20:06 | Italy, Italy | | Report spam→
Hi. Now I send a copy in your email.Best.Ricardo.

by Ricardo Garcia | 16 Jun 2009 07:06 | Barcelona, Spain | | Report spam→
if you wish to embed with the Italian Army as an Italian, I would think that you should be able to arrange that in Italy, through the Ministry of Defense in Rome or even through a specific unit that you know will be deployed. I don’t think the Italian contingent is that large, so you should be able to find out who you have to talk to, and figure it out. I imagine that this will actually be a very good way for you to start covering the war, for several reasons:

1) if you work your contacts right and get the right travel orders, you won’t have to spend any money. you could even join your unit in Italy and fly with them. Even if you pay your air ticket to Kabul, you won’t spend anything once you’re embedded. your food, transport, and lodging will be free, think of it as your tax euros at work.

2) your lack of experience won’t matter, because you will do what the troops do, go where they go, take the same risks that they, not you, determine. you will learn from them, how to look at a street, at a house, etc. you will gain experience as they do.

3) i don’t think that the Italian or most of the other smaller contingents in Afghanistan are regularly assigned the most dangerous areas. you ease your way in, learn to become comfortable. Not that bad things don’t happen, they do. But it’s not like going to the Korengal Valley on your very first trip. When you feel up to it, you can request a sketchier embed. Keep in mind that the waiting list can be quite long from what I understand.

Getting a car and fixer in Kabul is only of limited use; road travel outside the city is really NOT recommended. Of course Kabul is a very interesting place in it of itself.

If you have a small agency, they can write the letters for you to be accredited and embedded. you should be fine with that. also it would not hurt to talk to the editors of smaller newspapers in Italy, perhaps one from a town from which a military unit has deployed, that kind of thing. They won’t pay very much but it’s definitely a way to get better access. Especially, say, if it’s the Aviano newspaper, you could go to the Italian Air Force and say you want to do a story on Italian Air Force guys from the Aviano base (if there are any in Afghanistan!) and so on…You want to do all this while you’re in Italy, BEFORE you get to Afghanistan.

good luck.

by [former member] | 18 Jun 2009 08:06 | Brooklyn, United States | | Report spam→
dear roberto,

alans proposals to cover afghanistan are right, for sure. but after
reading your post about your intention to go there and what you leave at
home, if you go – i was quite shocked. You´re non-experienced and you
wonna start a war-photographers career in Afghanistan just by “trial and

It´s not enough to feel mentally prepared to do that job. You need
practice!!! And the best choice to get it is to start slowly and to
learn by experiences which doesn´t takes your life away. We are just
photographers, not heroic movie stars. and this kind of coverage brings
you to the edge of life quickly, if it´s went wrong. Of course that
could happen anywhere, but it´s more probable in a country like Afghanistan is this time.

Why don´t you start to find a story about the italian contingent in
Kosovo or Bosnia? Why don´t you cover a frozen conflict anywhere or any
tense country ? Go forward step by step to learn the essentials. Follow
your spirit of photography, that´s the best you can do. But start at the
beginning point and not at destination of what you wonna do.

take care!

by randbild | 26 Jun 2009 15:06 | Hamburg, Germany | | Report spam→
very good points, in some ways the “best” place to start is Israel/Palestine, where most of the time it is not too dangerous (although it become so with no warning). Bosnia/Kosovo at this point is too peaceful and normal to provide much experience, although from Italy it’s very easy to get to — you just drive your own car, either through Croatia via Trieste or take the boat with it from Ancona or Bari.

Other good post-war environments might be Lebanon, Georgia, Sri Lanka if you can get access.

But all these places cost money. The nice thing about embedding is that it’s basically free. For someone starting out freelancing, that can be an important consideration.

Like I said also, lack of experience means a lot less while embedded. You don’t make many independent decisions. You do what your unit does, you go where they go. You have to trust them. Obviously if you have a poor unit leader or bad luck or both, bad things can happen. But you are taking no more of a risk than the soldiers you accompany. You won’t be kidnapped, you never have to doubt or second-guess your own choices, because you don’t make any. The reality of most embeds of course is a LOT of boredom.

Unembedded is NOT an option, for somebody without experience especially, in Iraq or Afghanistan right now. Like it or not, journalists have become targets too many times in the past few years for us to have any more illusions about that.

But as Ricardo says, if he has to do it, he has to do it. No amount of effort trying to convince him otherwise will have any influence. We know this, because there was a time when it was all new and unknown for all of us. In 1991 a whole generation of Europeans had never seen war up close, and lots of journalists were killed or wounded in those early days in Croatia and Bosnia. Later, people got more experienced.

The same thing continued to happen through the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. So now our generation has a lot of people with these experiences; it’s easy now to say, “hey, slow down!”

But don’t forget, there will always be new and young photographers wanting to go down the same road, no matter how much horror the grizzled old veterans survived. Of course there are better things to do in life than cover conflict. That’s easy to say now. But not when I was 25…

by [former member] | 26 Jun 2009 16:06 | Beijing, China | | Report spam→
Many tanks all of you, first. Alan and Randbild you are the opposite face of the coin, everyone has right.
There are risks even in Kosovo or Libano or even going in Naples with my family by car or the old part of Bari south of Italy.
We leave every days with risks, I know the Afghanistan it is the hottest war environment that it is active at the present time. My motivation it is not money the revenue that can I have selling some pictures for sure does not cover what I am planning to spend over there, I have no agency behind me and I am not a suicide man. I am evaluating risks and return in terms of human, professional satisfactions.

Just one questions do you think that will be possible began a war photographer without risks and with an equip of bodyguard all time around us ? War it is not only tank, bombs, explosions and dead man on the road what append at the rest of the civilian peoples involved ? How they live? How they survive ? What append to kids like mine 6 and 2 yo at the night ? … how the sleep ? how they manage the fear ?

That’s what a would like to cover, the mechanism because peoples and country are involved in war it is very clear to me, it is nothing matter with religions or land boundery or different colors of skin and different ethnic groups.

Thanks to everybody to your help,


by Roberto Bianconi | 29 Jun 2009 09:06 | Italy, Italy | | Report spam→

Stephen Mayes introduces the discussion topics, including the motive and the intent of photographers who cover war, and the responsibility of the audience viewing the resulting images to learn, react, and engage. Tim Hetherington and Gary Knight continue by debating the crisis in photojournalism — is there one, and if so, what is it?

Filmed on 22 May 2009 at VII Gallery, Brooklyn,

by randbild | 01 Jul 2009 14:07 | Hamburg, Germany | | Report spam→

More about sponsorship→


Roberto Bianconi, Pilot / Photographer Roberto Bianconi
Pilot / Photographer
Milan , Italy ( MXP )
Ricardo Garcia, Photojournalist Ricardo Garcia
(Ricardo Garcia)
Barcelona , Spain
randbild, photographer randbild
Hamburg , Germany


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