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The risks of being a photojournalist in the Middle East

Hello all,

I am working on a book chapter about risk in photojournalism, with a focus on the Middle East. I have a list of questions that I would like photojournalists with experience in the Middle East to answer, if you are interested.

I’ll post them here, you are welcome to comment and give me your thoughts in this forum. But I’d also be happy to hear your answers via email. I can be reached at mwoodward@merip.org.

The more you would like to say the better. If I’d like to quote you directly in my chapter I will first ask your permission.

Thanks for helping me think about this topic.

All best regards,

The Questions:

- What risks do you take in your work as a photojournalist? For example, these could be risks of physical harm (getting into dangerous situations), risks of not being able to do a job well (such as taking on a job you might not be fully qualified for), economic risks of not getting paid (accepting work from clients who you don’t know or doing work on spec), risks of having your work used for purposes you don’t agree with, risks of damaging personal relationships, or other risks you can think of.

- What is the point of taking risks in your work? What does taking risks accomplish?

- What do you do to mitigate the risks you need to take? How do you prepare yourself to deal well with various risks?

- Does your concept of the acceptable level of risk-taking on the job differ from what your editors, agencies, or clients think is acceptable? How do you reconcile these different understandings of risk-taking?

- Do you think taking risks is a necessary part of being a photojournalist?

- Do you think you are a photojournalist because you like taking risks?

- Does the act of “bearing witness” to human suffering mean you have a moral commitment to take risks? If so, explain those commitments and describe what those risks are.

- What is a memorable or important risk you have taken in your work? What happened and what were the consequences? Would you take that risk again?

- Do you see the risks of your work as a positive aspect (perhaps spurring you on to be more creative), or as a negative aspect (perhaps limiting what you can do)?

- Do you think it is appropriate for the risks you take during your work be evident in your photography? Or should your risks not be visible to the public?

- What situations are most risky for you as a photojournalist and why? (Perhaps a particular place, like Iraq, or particular types of situations.)

- If you were embedded with the military in Iraq, do you think being embedded minimized the risks you were exposed to, or made your work more risky? Please elaborate.

- Do you think photojournalism more risky now than in the past? Why?

by Michelle L. Woodward at 2009-10-25 20:10:25 UTC Baltimore , United States | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Thanks Lazar,

I’d love to hear your stories. Answer as much you want, you don’t need to answer all the questions. I appreciate you taking the time. I need to finish the article in mid-December, so if you can write to me in early November sometime that would be ideal.

Best regards,


by Michelle L. Woodward | 26 Oct 2009 16:10 | Baltimore, United States | | Report spam→

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Michelle L. Woodward, photo editor, photog Michelle L. Woodward
photo editor, photog
Beirut , Lebanon


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