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What equipment would you recommend?

Hi all, I work for a global nonprofit. In an effort to produce stories/content about our grantees doing incredible work in the field, I am proposing a program that trains/equips my colleagues with skills/equipment that will help them capture stories while they travel out into the field.

I am putting together a proposal for the project and I’m wondering what type of equipment I could suggest we buy? I’m guessing we would want to buy an audio recorder and a portable/light (packing/luggage restrictions) camera that takes high quality photos/videos for web and print.

Does anyone have any suggestions on specific equipment I should look into, or have any advice on how the structure of training the program officers might look like? Any ideas in general?

Thanks in advance for your help, and I hope all is well!

by Scott Shigeoka at 2013-02-21 05:44:57 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Hire a professional to show off the important work in the best possible light- you will be glad if you do.

by richard sobol | 21 Feb 2013 15:02 | | Report spam→
I agree with Richard, put the money into a competent freelancer—-if there are none to be had where you are bring one in——because if you are asking, you can’t do it yourself and the work would be the same if you hire someone that can’t do the work——so you will still have to pay for the equipment, haul it around and keep it safe——

My opinion is that if you have a confident independent, you will not be able to shoot with the standard equipment any fast freelancer shoots with——2 bodies, a short and long lens, one flash, and one small video unit with a laptop for downloading, process-editing and filing—-and it’s done. Adapters for any video camera are available—-I use the Olympus OMD for video with an adapter for my Nikons and it works great——

Even if it takes a week to get perfect light, its better than spending 10 to 20k on equipment that you won’t be using every day——go 1500 to 3k on a freelancer and you are done until next year, or next season, when you have to rally the team again.

Get a good freelancer and you can sip a beer in the shade with a few interruptions for decisions every now and then, so add 28 dollars to the budget and you are good.


by David Bro | 25 Feb 2013 04:02 (ed. Feb 25 2013) | Orange County-Los Angeles, United States | | Report spam→
hi, I agree with richard and david, it’s not about the equipment but it’s the experience of who is using the equipment. it will make a real difference


by chiara ceolin | 27 Feb 2013 12:02 | Dar es Salaam, Tanzania | | Report spam→
I agree that hiring a freelancer to shoot the images/video you need is probably your best bet. Not only will you get that professional’s technical skill, aesthetic understanding and production experience, but working within time and budget constraints will force you to clarify the images you need to tell your chosen narrative. Having an outside professional also frees your colleagues to do the work that they are in the field to do and that you want to highlight.

If you are set on having your staff do their own image making, the problem won’t be choosing the right equipment. Almost any current camera is capable of producing decent technical results. Your bigger concern will be finding a program or freelance educator that can create a training program for you so that your colleagues are getting the most that they can out of it.

Like David says, the 10K – 20K you would spend on equipment (not to mention the 5K+ for training and the lost opportunity cost from taking your staff off of their primary duties) would pay for half a dozen shoots by freelancers. And you’d likely get better photographs.

To answer your question though, John Stanmeyer’s What’s the Kit page would probably be helpful: http://stanmeyer.com/blog/pages/whats-the-kit/.

by Michael Meyer | 27 Feb 2013 17:02 | Brooklyn, NY, United States | | Report spam→
I agree with the opinions above. Inexpert photographers with good intentions are usually just not good enough. The problem is simply that non-photographers almost never know how to make images that actually communicate something. Anybody can take pretty pictures, even with the most basic cameras, but it is an entirely different matter if you want those pictures to say something of value.

by Dr Chris Westinghouse | 28 Feb 2013 01:02 | SYD, Australia | | Report spam→
I think the suggestions above are spot on.

One idea to consider if you need ongoing coverage is to use one or more writer/photographers on a contract basis. I’ve worked that way for one nonprofit, providing stories/photos throughout the U.S. and overseas, with the benefit of my being able to really understand their ongoing needs and the nonprofit being assured of getting the coverage it required.

by PJ Heller | 28 Feb 2013 04:02 | Christchurch, New Zealand | | Report spam→
Well, yes to all those replies but I suspect the original poster would be happier just reading Amazon customer reviews…

by DPC | 28 Feb 2013 12:02 | Paris, France | | Report spam→
I know, it SEEMS like a good idea. But it’s just not.

Most major NGOs’ communications departments will tell you that when you are generating publicity and fundraising materials, there is a world of difference between images a staff member who spends most of their time working on programmatic operations produces and what an experienced professional produces. The same thing is being discovered in some journalism organizations – scribblers rarely make good photographers.

So I suggest you pitch another idea to your NGO contact. Even if you convince them to try it, in the end it won’t work out and you will be tagged with the failure….

by Neal Jackson | 02 Mar 2013 10:03 | Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam | | Report spam→

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Scott Shigeoka, Digital Storyteller Scott Shigeoka
Digital Storyteller
Washington, D.C. , United States ( WAS )
richard sobol, photojournalist, author richard sobol
photojournalist, author
[undisclosed location].
David Bro, freelance editorial David Bro
freelance editorial
Orange County , United States ( LAX )
chiara ceolin, Photographer chiara ceolin
(Documentary photographer)
London , United Kingdom
Michael Meyer, photographer / educator Michael Meyer
photographer / educator
Brooklyn, Ny , United States ( JFK )
Dr  Chris Westinghouse, Photojournalist Dr Chris Westinghouse
(Generalist For Hire)
Melbourne , Australia
PJ Heller, Freelance Photojournalist PJ Heller
Freelance Photojournalist
(Freelance Photojournalist)
Christchurch , New Zealand
DPC, Photographer DPC
Paris , France
Neal Jackson, Neal Jackson
(Flaneur, Savant and Scapegrace)
Washington, Dc , United States ( IAD )


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