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hi everyone,

i’m planing a trip to sri lanka in few months, looking for fixer/driver/translator….info, contacts.

anything u can think of, would be appreciated



by AG at 2007-09-25 11:43:11 UTC (ed. Mar 12 2008 ) Tel-aviv , Israel | Bookmark | | Report spam→

hey there Amnon

I’m planning to be in Sri Lanka February or March..I will keep tabs on this posting as will be needing a guide for various trips.

by | 25 Sep 2007 19:09 | Canmore, Canada | | Report spam→
hi guys,
fixer/driver/translators are relatively easy to find, given the downturn in tourism.
make sure you have your paperwork in order before you arrive, or getting around may prove difficult.

by Morten Hvaal | 26 Sep 2007 02:09 | Colombo, Sri Lanka | | Report spam→
hey there Morten

what kind of paperwork? like a working visa? what if we turned up with a tourist visa?
many thanks

by | 26 Sep 2007 03:09 | Canmore, Canada | | Report spam→
tourist visas cannot be changed to journalist visas after arrival here. which means you won’t get a visiting journalist accreditation, which could mean trouble both for you and your local contacts if you work here anyway. a bit like working in israel without a gpo card. sri lankan authorities are not overly impressed with the coverage in foreign media and take a rather dim view of journalists pretending to be tourists. obviously, none of the above applies if you’re doing undercover investigative journalism here, but then you shouldn’t really be posting on ls first..


by Morten Hvaal | 26 Sep 2007 05:09 | Colombo, Sri Lanka | | Report spam→

is it difficult to get a jounranlist visa?

by AG | 26 Sep 2007 08:09 | Tel-aviv, Israel | | Report spam→
hey Ammon. you need that journalist visa. its not difficult to get. once arrived contact
savitri panabokke
sri lanka ministry of foreign affairs
work 0094.
work 2437633
assistant dierctor, public comunications division
her office will give you the press credential you ll need to work in the country. its a must, especially to keep your driver fixer out of trouble when travelling to sensitive areas.

HEY FOLKS, MAYBE I HAVENT CHECKED AND IT ALREADY EXISTS HERE ON LS, BUT WE SHOULD DO A RESOURCE SECTION DIVIDED BY COUNTRY WHERE TO POST HELPFULL STUFF like DONT EAT IN THIS RESTOURANT OR GO HANG OUT IN THIS BAR… for instance, i was passing through dakar last week and the Sofihotel has fast free wireless interent in the loby. free swimming pool as well if you play it right… stuff like that. maybe some more serious stuff as well if you think that swimming for free is not a serious enough matter.

by [former member] | 26 Sep 2007 08:09 (ed. Sep 26 2007) | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | | Report spam→

a list of swimming pools that meet the calaf standard is clearly a must..


by Morten Hvaal | 26 Sep 2007 13:09 | Colombo, Sri Lanka | | Report spam→

thanks for that, but when i apply to visa in israel, possible to get the journalist one, or should i apply as a tourist and then try to change it while in sri lanka…..as morten said, no possible,

by AG | 26 Sep 2007 13:09 | Tel-aviv, Israel | | Report spam→
you should go for the journalist one as Morten said. its very complicated to get your visa changed once in the country.
You re absolutly right Morten!!!

by [former member] | 26 Sep 2007 17:09 | Addis Ababa, Ethiopia | | Report spam→
hey all

i’m doing a series on workers in the developing world…it’s a personal project, nothing for the newspapers…do you think i would need a press credential to hire a guide to take me into, say, a factory of some sort…eg…clothing, saris, whatever. if i explained to the guide i was just doing the photography for myself….

many thanks

by | 26 Sep 2007 18:09 | Canmore, Canada | | Report spam→

why would you not want to get a journalist visa? as guy points out, you could very easily get locals or yourself in trouble if you work here without it. there are checkpoints everywhere, and just carrying a camera near the wrong building can cause problems. plus, unless you are wanting to go low-profile, i don’t really see the point in confirming the authorities’ suspicions about foreign media pretending to be tourists. get “caught”, and you’ll have contributed to making professional life more difficult for your colleagues.



by Morten Hvaal | 27 Sep 2007 09:09 | Colombo, Sri Lanka | | Report spam→

Nandini Farik

And her husband:
Faizal Ansar

by Aaron Goodman | 27 Sep 2007 09:09 | Bangkok, Thailand | | Report spam→
true enough, Morten. I totally agree with your point of view now, but I’m wondering…what kind of things will having a journalists visa prevent us from photographing? I have no clue as I’m young and have never done this before.

Would you recommend a journalists visa for India, Cambodia, and China? Again, for some of my trip, I would be looking at photographing inside factories. Most of the time however, it will be candid street photography.

Thanks again

by | 27 Sep 2007 16:09 | Canmore, Canada | | Report spam→
This will vary by country and your intent, but journalist visas are often harder to get. I shoot in India often, always on a tourist visa, and rarely with an upfront assignment. If I wanted to shoot in a factory (I’ve shot in factories elsewhere), I would just find someone who knows someone at the factory and work it all out informally. If you come in as a journalist, permission to shoot might be harder to secure (people would be suspicious of your intentions)—of course, it all depends on what the factory does and who it employs and how you present yourself.

That said, if you are working in a dangerous or militarized area (like Sri Lanka), being a sanctioned journalist can be much safer for you.

India, too, takes a dim view of journalists working on tourist visas. If you are doing something sensitive (Kashmir, military, child labor), or if you need access to officialdom (government ministers, military personnel), you must have a journalist visa. If you are just working on your own stories independently and aren’t likely to attract attention, a journalist visa isn’t usually necessary. Just don’t be on assignment for a major media outlet on a tourist visa.

But if you want or need the professional courtesies that would be extended to journalists (transportation on a military or aid flight, less hassle at a checkpoint, access to a local newspaper’s communications technology), then obviously you need a journalist’s visa.

by [former member] | 27 Sep 2007 16:09 | New York, United States | | Report spam→

preston’s description is accurate. i’ll just add that you should keep in mind that journalists posing as tourists have zero legal protection in many countries. meaning that if you do your candid street photography and get arrested because there happens to be a government minister’s house on the street in question, you’ll have put your embassy and anyone else who tries to help you in an awkward position. i just googled you, and if i were a suspicious security official here i wouldn’t necessarily buy the “i’m just a tourist with a camera” line..

also, since you’re young and learning: the fine art of obtaining the right visas and permissions is an essential part of being a photographer in “interesting” places. i built my wire career largely by getting into countries faster than other, usually far more talented, photographers.



by Morten Hvaal | 27 Sep 2007 17:09 | Colombo, Sri Lanka | | Report spam→
Hi Preston and Morten

thanks for the info. awesome.

" That said, if you are working in a dangerous or militarized area (like Sri Lanka), being a sanctioned journalist can be much safer for you."

Would this apply if my only intentions in Sri Lanka are to shoot some candid street scenes? talk to some local people about their work? and like you mentioned, Preston, “find someone who knows someone at the factory and work it all out informally” (with the help of a guide)? I definately AM NOT planning on shooting politically sensitive areas, borders, buildings, whatever. if i see a government building on the street in Sri Lanka, I won’t photograph.

so given what I’ve said, would you still recommend a journalist visa for Sri Lanka?
Thanks guys

by | 27 Sep 2007 18:09 | Canmore, Canada | | Report spam→
hey amon,

i went to sri lanka a couple of years ago,visiting various areas, including some Tamil held.
the guys are spot on. people can be a bit " sensitive" and it’s best to get organised as far as the paperwork’s concerened. there were enough road blocks, and they took their job seriously, especially if you get closer to the more militarised areas.
as for the drivers, without stating the obvious, make sure you get a good grip on the daily rate, petrol prices etc. the fella we had was an absolute star when it came to dealing with checkpoints etc, but, i’ll give him his due, he was also very creative in his accounting when we tried to settle the bill.
all in all, it’s a beautiful place.

by Chris Young | 27 Sep 2007 23:09 | london, United Kingdom | | Report spam→

i’ve lived here for nine months now. even in colombo itself i still don’t know where all the sensitive sites are. some are marked, but others are just regular buildings that happen to house an office or individuals that may be considered targets for attacks. there are also plain-clothes security personnel wandering about. they aren’t too keen on being in candid street photos either. several senior politicians have been assassinated here in the last few years, and people here are decidedly jumpy.

also: there are frequent incidents that can make for good images. are you sure you’ll be able to bag your cameras and walk away from a bomb attack or student demonstration without shooting? because if you do point a camera at police securing a bombing site or confronting demonstrators, you will be asked to produce id.

chris is very right about the need to negotiate well with local hires. there are virtually no tourists here now, and people are desperately trying to make a living. i know a few good drivers and such. let me know if you need any help.



by Morten Hvaal | 28 Sep 2007 03:09 | Colombo, Sri Lanka | | Report spam→

any info/contacts u might be able to provide, will be welcome



by AG | 28 Sep 2007 11:09 | Tel-aviv, Israel | | Report spam→
Just wanted to help shed some light on Sri Lanka.

can’t stress this enough. I was threatened with jail for taking some shots. Luckily they do not know about the secret of shooting on two memory cards….lovin the 1ds!

2. The people are warm and friendly and will help you anyways possible. I actually used a journalist while I was there. He had all the 411 lowdonws for me. But, remember this…In the past couple of years most of the journalist who either were killed or imprisoned have been in the Sri Lankan strong hold areas. It is rather safe but watch out!!

3. Most NGO’s are at a level a security that will require special attention if you decide to work with them. I have a number for the Head lady in Trincomalee if you want it.

You will have good time. If you need anything else email me and I will try and help out.


by Michael Lanning | 29 Sep 2007 13:09 | Cambodia, Cambodia | | Report spam→
I have the name of a driver in Sri Lanka who is also a good fixer although if you used that term he might not understand as I think it means different things to different people.

That said I trust this guy with no reservations unless you don’t like a fest driver… He is based up in Kandy.

His name is Sarath Gamini

His email is: sageena@wow.lk

Please tell him I sent you!

Best, Keri

by Keri Pickett | 11 Oct 2007 20:10 | Minneapolis, Minnesota, United States | | Report spam→
I second all the others in this posting that recommends a journalist visa. It seems to be helpful in many situations.

Thought it “might” be possible to apply for a journalist visa when already in the country I wouldn’t count on it. The security situation is, as you might already know, rising. Especially in Colombo 1 and 2 areas where I’m residing right now. If I’m not entirely on fault, the new Immigration and Emigration Act also tightens up the entry and exit-regulations to Sri Lanka.

As long as you state and present your purpose for a journalist visa application to the Sri Lankan Embassy in your country it shouldn’t be any problem to get one granted. However, when you arrive in Colombo you must go to two different departments to get your press-ID issued. Both departments belongs to Ministry of Foreign Affairs but they are situated in two different districts, Colombo 1 and Colombo 5. If I’m still in the country (and Colombo) when you arrive, contact me if you want any help with finding the right places (I was taken around the whole city when looking for the right departments. Taxi and bajaj-drivers doesn’t seem to know those addresses).

If doing work on spec as I do, you probably has a limited budget. I can recommend (for the first days at least) YMCA Hostel, 39 Bristol Street, Fort (Colombo 1). It has very basic single and double rooms as well as dorms. Bathrooms in the hallways. Don’t forget to bring your own mosquito net (though Colombo should be a malaria free zone I’m prone to get liked alot by mosquitos, malaria or not). Cost per night in a single room with fan is around Rs 430 + one time key deposit of Rs 100.

You should pick up the special 3-pin connector to the single power outlet that you find in the rooms. If you bring alot of gear, bring a powerstrip, preferrably surge-protected. Theres also a cheap and good lunch restaurant on the bottom floor. Rs 110 (about 1 USD) for a lunch meal. Don’t forget to bring a metal-wired safety net to lock down your valuable stuff with since theres only a basic wooden cabinett in the rooms. You can drop by Cargills just a few hundred meters away to pick up a pack of toilet-paper since it always seem to run out at YMCA.

I also found out that Sri Lanka Telecom has a WiFi-antenna nearby that you can access for a fee (Rs 200/min.). I also found another WiFi-source, which I also believe belongs to Sri Lanka Telecom, which should show up as IPBB-WIFI on your WiFi-enabled device. This second public access point is open with no fees (at the moment of writing) which is a bonus if you are filing during your stay in Colombo.


by Sonny Johansson | 14 Oct 2007 07:10 (ed. Oct 14 2007) | Colombo, Sri Lanka | | Report spam→
I spent 3 years until this past July in SL, and can strongly back up the assessment that a proper journo visa is a must, especially if you intend to travel to areas outside of Colombo or the tourism centers, like Galle. Guy’s recommendation of Savitri is a good one. As long as you enter on a journalist visa, the accreditation takes a few hours to process and it’s relatively hassle free.
If you’re looking for a good fixer with good contacts (not just a taxi driver who might not have industry experience), try Chris Kamalendran at +94773600513 or kamalwijeya@yahoo.com. He’ll charge a bit, but his contacts are good and he speaks both Sinhala and Tamil, as well as very functional English.
For net access, I’ve found that many hotels offer wifi off adsl connections, and the major ones (Galle Face, Galadari) offer major discounts for journalists, if you ask for it (I’ve known folks who stay for US$40 or thereabout).
Good luck.

by Robert Go | 14 Oct 2007 09:10 | Melbourne, Australia | | Report spam→

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AG, photographer AG
Manila , Philippines
, Photographer
(Documentary Travel Photographe)
Canmore , Canada
Morten Hvaal, Photographer Morten Hvaal
Oslo , Norway ( OSL )
Aaron Goodman, Aaron Goodman
(Video journalist)
Bangkok , Thailand ( BKK )
Chris Young, photographer Chris Young
(chris young)
Toronto , Canada
Michael Lanning, Photojournalist Michael Lanning
(Livin' it up in the BIG dust b)
Nairobi , Kenya
Keri Pickett, Photographer, Author Keri Pickett
Photographer, Author
Minneapolis, Minnesota , United States ( MSP )
Sonny Johansson, Photojournalist Sonny Johansson
Copenhagen , Denmark ( CPH )
Robert Go, Photographer | Writer Robert Go
Photographer | Writer
Melbourne , Australia


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