Conflict photography is the most dangerous job a photographer can take. Photojournalist Jason P. Howe has spent over a decade covering breaking news conflicts around the world. Now Howe is focused on helping other photojournalists safely enter the field of conflict photography. Professional soldiers have to go through extensive training before they’re released into the field. Conflict photographers are going into the same warzones with no training, and armed only with a camera. Because of this, Jason Howe now has a workshop for photographers, guiding and training them before they enter conflict zones.
PhotoShelter: What spurred you to develop this workshop?
Jason Howe: One of the things that inspired me to start this workshop was the volume of emails I (and other working photojournalists) receive every week asking: how to get into photojournalism, what equipment is best, how to contact editors, how get to conflict zones and work safely, and so on. Giving interested parties six days of access to a group with over 60 years of front-line experience and throwing in lots of very relevant role play and and simulated scenarios is a very good way to boost young or inexperienced photographers’ awareness of what they are getting into by going to conflict zones and how to be better prepared for what awaits them.
Over the years I have always done my best to help out other photographers in the field where possible, whether that be with advice, lending them my body armor or other equipment, or buying broke freelancers dinner or a drink – just as the more experienced photographers did for me when I first started. Now that I have made the decision to no longer put myself in harm’s way on a regular basis, this feels like an excellent way to pass on some of the skills that have kept me and my colleagues alive and working.
Photoshelter: What do you think are the top three most important lessons to be learned in conflict photography?
1. Conflict photography is not a game. The decision to go to a war zone can have far reaching and long term effects, not just on the photographers themselves but also on their families and the people they photograph.
2. Less is more when it comes to equipment. If you can’t carry it all day everyday, ditch it. Simplify your kit so you can concentrate on staying safe and making images without worrying about changing lenses, etc. Buy less equipment and spend the money on insuring yourself.
3. You can never be too fit or too prepared. Covering a conflict will sap every physical and mental resource you have. Every piece of equipment will let you down in some set of circumstances. But the better prepared and adaptable you are, the higher your chances of surviving unscathed and producing good work.
Check out Jason Howe’s full interview at Photoshelter.