Assignment photography in a country other than one’s own presents a number of challenges. Travel connections, funding, medical issues, safety, language, customs are but to name a few. All things being equal, we at DPI prefer to employ indigenous photographers to avoid these roadblocks in completing a successful assignment.
Photographers tend to specialize in a particular discipline. Some shoot only weddings, while others may shoot only babies, or railroads, landscapes, portraits, etc. There was a recent report of a photographer who decided that he wanted to shoot only funerals. For us at DPI it is about people in their environment. This is the nature of photojournalism and documentary photography. It is useful to think in terms of sectionalism or regionalism from a photographer’s perspective as this will facilitate focusing on a location to which access is easily attainable.
Editorial photography presents difficulties in two basic areas. The equipment. In past decades, photographs taken by paid staff photographers from the media had a distinct advantage compared with amateur equipment as the costs were beyond the reach of the average person. Improvements in digital photography regarding camera phones as well as digital cameras with wi-fi ability has made it possible for photographers to capture both still images and HD video and distribute it worldwide in real time. As a result, paid staffers are being replaced by freelancers and stringers as an increasing number of print media outlets no longer see the need to retain large payrolls. The problem of quality of the images will always separate the professional from the amateur. It is not enough to simply possess the equipment, but rather the talent behind the lens which makes one photograph superior to another.
It could have been a scene taken from John Steinbeck’s novel The Grapes of Wrath, but for these folks and many more like them the experience was all too real. Migrants, headed for