Nikon D5 takes on Togo, West Africa

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/2500

The Nikon D5 is really performing well here in Togo, West Africa. I don’t have a lot of technical things to share this time for a blog. I just wanted to share some of the photos I have been getting which is really me sharing the people of Togo that I am meeting.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/125

I have been pleased with the Dynamic Range of the files.

Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/400

I am loving doing portraits with the Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/800

I also love shooting with the Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art lens. I love shooting both of the lenses wide open which gives such a selective focus that the subject really pops out from the background.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 100, ƒ/1.4, 1/2500
Nikon D5, Nikon 85mm ƒ/1.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/1.8, 1/500
Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 800, ƒ/4, 1/4000
Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 1400, ƒ/1.4, 1/200
Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 4500, ƒ/4, 1/100
Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art, ISO 1400, ƒ/1.4, 1/200

What makes a successful humanitarian photo coverage

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 32000, ƒ/14, 1/100

All the trips I have done overseas have been for humanitarian work. Humanitarian work is concerned with or seeking to promote human welfare.

This past trip to Nicaragua there was a lot of opportunity for taking care of basic healthcare needs. Now the difficult thing sometimes to do as a humanitarian photographer is to capture and compel the audience to act.

In the homes they didn’t have a medicine cabinet with your basic bottles of Tylenol, Ibuprofen, Aspirin, cough medicine and bandaids. If they needed an aspirin they would go to the city and buy not a bottle but just a few pills. That is all they could afford. I needed to capture the medically trained indigenous volunteers checking blood pressure or giving an IV, because handing a person a small ziplock bag of ibuprofen doesn’t read quickly to the audience medical care.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1250, ƒ/4, 1/100

The gravity of this moment with medical missionary nurse practitioner Traci Warner isn’t as clear to the audience visually as I would have wished. Dominga is the lady in the middle with the IV above her head. Her sister is to the left and had just paused a moment from waving the fan to keep her sister comfortable.

Dominga is dying from cancer. After we visited Dominga would die later that night.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 1600, ƒ/4.5, 1/100

Missionary nurse practitioner Warner has a lot more to offer than her medical skills. During this part of life that we all will go through Warner took the time to read Psalms 23.

Verse 4 really speaks to me:

4 Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me.

This photo really captured for me why I like working with missionaries. They are caring for the whole person and not just their physical needs, but their spiritual as well.

Nikon D5, Sigma 35mm ƒ/1.4 DG Art,  ISO 200, ƒ/1.4, 1/100

If you are taking photos of humanitarian work you need to keep shooting. Sometimes when you are taking photos and thinking something better will come along is a mistake. You shoot everything you can and then later pick the moments that best capture the work going on and the soul of the story.

Here Warner is checking a skin condition on a lady with the Nicaraguan medical volunteer learning about the fungus condition.

I hope you are realizing at this point of my writing that the words are paramount to understanding what is going on in each of these photos. Take notes and be able to describe what is going on in a photo and why they are doing something.

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 100, ƒ/4, 1/160

I really like this photo of the young girl here. Now without text it is still a very compelling photograph. In context of the photos above the photo can take on even more meaning, but requires the words to help the audience feel even more impact than the visual can do alone.

This is the young granddaughter of the lady in the very first photo. The lady having her blood pressure taken has high blood pressure that they monitor. Due to the medical team not just giving her some medicine to help lower the blood pressure they helped her through educating her on her diet. Today she is no longer needing the blood pressure medicine, but just needs to monitor it.

By saving the grandmother we saved the care taker of the granddaughter. Now she has someone to watch her and take care of her as her parents are both out working trying to make ends meet for the family.

Many young girls like her are raped and abused due to lack of adult supervision. Who would think that humanitarian aid through medical training and some blood pressure pills would help save this young girls life?

This is why I love traveling the world and helping make people’s lives better. How do I make things better when I am not a nurse practitioner? I help tell these stories and get people like you to give and go to make a difference.

Here are two opportunities this year for you to do the same thing and learn how to do it as well.

First we have two openings left for our Storytellers Abroad workshop in Togo, West Africa.

Next opportunity is traveling with Gary S. Chapman and myself to Honduras, Central America.

Honduras, October 29 – November 5, 2016 – $2,600 

Nikon D5, Sigma 24-105mm f/4 DG OS HSM Art Lens, ISO 450, ƒ/8, 1/100

This is not a classroom class only. When you are done you will have had the opportunity to produce a complete project that will do exactly what you would be doing if you were capturing the story yourself. The difference is you have teachers/coaches to help you navigate all the hurdles of storytelling.

If you want to do coverage like I am doing overseas, then here is your chance. The students we have finish the Storytellers Abroad Workshop have now shown to the missions agency ABWE their skills and also let the organization get to know them. Many are asked to tell more stories of missionaries around the world.

Sign up today and I will see you in either Togo or Honduras very soon.

Love of photography can cloud your judgement

Nikon D4, Sigma 120-300mm ƒ/2.8 DG OS HSM | S, Sigma TC-2001 2x, ISO 12800, ƒ/5.6, 1/1250

There are two things I love to shoot more than anything else: Sports & Humanitarian subjects.

Both of these subjects are like an adrenaline rush for me to cover.

Nikon D750, AF-S NIKKOR 28-300mm f/3.5-5.6G ED VR, ISO 1400, ƒ/5.6, 1/100

I am not alone and find that both of these subjects have photographers lining up in a row to shoot them for free just to have the chance to do so.

Here is a big clue to your brain cells–ANYTHING that people are willing to do for free requires you to be the very best there is to make a living at it.

The odds of you being a professional sports photographer earning all of your living doing this full-time maybe more difficult than playing the sport professionally. The reason is simple, since so many people want to stand on the sidelines and will do whatever it takes to do it even if it is for free.

In sports we call these jock sniffers. Well that may sound crude but they just want to be close to the action.

Not sure what we call them if they are willing to do whatever it takes to do humanitarian photography for free, but there are so many of these folks out there it is scary.

In a Facebook group there was a comment/question about covering missionaries for church organizations. Here is a small snippet:

The missions organization pays you little or in some cases NOTHING for your work after all is said and done. There are some of us who can walk away with photos worthy of National Geographic. I ask you, is it fair and right for missions groups to get all the benefits of having talented photographers shooting for them while the photographers get little or nothing to show for it? 

Here was my response

There are basically three types of mission organizations. 

1. The William Carey model of mission societies where people give to the society and then the society hires missionaries and pays them as staff is one model.
2. Each person raises their own funds. They have their supporters give to the organizations that endorse them and they take a percentage [usually 10%] but this gives people a tax write-off. So the entire organization raises their own support. Campus Crusade works this way for the most part.
3. There is often a blending of the two models where a small support staff that might be staff but the majority raise their own support.

So if the person who hired you to work on the project is raising their own support then I think you don’t really have a case in the traditional sense in their eyes.

The problem in missions is when everyone is not operating on the same model.

I have a capitalistic freelance business. I find clients who I charge for my services. I either must make enough to subsidize my missions photography or I must charge to cover my costs.

In My Humble Opinion

I think there are way too many unqualified “missionaries” who are able to convince people to give to their cause. They are great fund raisers and not necessarily great “missionaries.”

I think the movement away from the William Carey Mission Societies to each person crowd funding is basically funding those who are fund raisers and not missionaries by skill set.

The problem also has been that many “missionaries” in the William Carey Mission Societies were not good at communicating their work when people visited them on the mission field. Many visiting the missionary would think they were not doing enough. Often the visitor would think they did as much good as these seminary trained missionaries. In some cases this was true, but many times the lack of understanding of cultural differences played into the equation.

You cannot change these models, but you must be aware of them and decide for yourself how you will respond. You can create your own 501c nonprofit and crowd source for example and have people give to the communications efforts of missions work around the world.

You can go and be a tentmaker who makes most of their money like Paul one of the first missionaries and author of much of the New Testament did as a tentmaker/missionary.

You can find those organizations that have set aside budget to hire you because they value true expertise and understand how this will help their missions objectives.

After more comments where people still felt like they should be paid by those organizations who often are all raising their own funds, I thought I needed to add some more thoughts. Here they are for you.

I don’t think you will get very far with feeling people should pay you when they are raising all their funds.

If you need to be paid then just state that and if they want to work with you they will find a way. If they don’t then move on. This is true with even clients who offer you money but it is below your cost of doing business–you must walk away.

There is another aspect to the discussion other than pay versus fund raising.

RESULTS

Those photographers who are able to tell stories effectively and in the process help organizations communicate why they are needed and why they need supporters to give to their cause they will be pursued and paid.

Too many who want to do “missions” or “humanitarian” are more in love with themselves traveling and getting paid to take photos. They are not ones who really believe in a cause. Their work is average and not what people will want to share in social media. They don’t have followings. They are irrelevant with their work, but in their own minds they are legends.

MORE THAN A STORYTELLER

You cannot just be a great storyteller these days alone. You must also be one who connects with the audience. There are photographers that when they “Tweet” they are communicating with more than 100,000 followers. They are a media outlet themselves. The reason they have so many followers is they are communicating in a way that it appeals to the audience.

They have an audience and when they share people get involved and those who are blessed to have them working for them benefit. Many organizations will hire them just for the access to their audience.

TRUE SUCCESS

You need to have outstanding work today. That is a given. But you need so much more. You must understand the entire process of a crisis needing people to get involved. You understand what it takes to engage that audience and you are part of a team helping them to understand all that must take place with your work to make it successful.

Those photographers who are running successful businesses are more likely to help a missions or humanitarian agency than a photographer struggling to get by. The reason is simple–they know you must make good business decisions for something to be successful.

SUMMARY

ANY PROFESSION where people are willing to do something for FREE there will always be those who at the very pinnacle of that profession can earn a living. Here are some professions you find many people doing for free all the time:

  • Music
  • Theater
  • Sports
  • Humanitarian 
  • Photography
To get paid and earn a living you must not just be the best technically. There are many amateur golfers who can out drive many on the tour. There are many musicians who are technical wizards with an instrument. 
Those who get paid are the total package. In photography that means you understand better than your client how you can best help them. You also understand everything that needs to happen for your ideas to create a real impact for the client. You are able to communicate and work with a client to achieve those goals. 
You also understand the business of the profession and understand what you need to charge to make a living. You are able to convince people you are the solution to their problems and that they need to pay you to help them achieve their goals.
You are also a person that exudes a confidence that makes people know you have their back and are on their team.
You can own all the very best gear available. You can have the best portfolio there is in the profession. But if you don’t know what business you are in and what problems you are solving for others you will never make it.
Don’t fall in love with what you get to do in a profession, fall in love with how you love to solve other people’s problems and it just happens that photography is part of the solution.

Advice to the Humanitarian Photographer on Getting Published

A young boy in the village of Konadouga, Burkina Faso where the native language is Senara and the formal language taught is French. This is just a mile or so from the Ivory Coast boarder where rebels had been fighting.

Photographers for the most part are some of the most compassionate people you will ever meet.  They want to help organizations they encounter, but often find most of their photos never seeing the light of day.

Pretty often I am getting emails of photographers returning from overseas and having a collection of photos they want to share. They want to get the stories in front of people.

A typical email will look something like this:

“I would like to ask for your advice. I want to send the photos to different magazines and newspaper with the hope that the photos will help generate interest and donations for the organizations I covered. How should I approach these media outlets?”

Here is my advice for anyone wanting to do humanitarian photography and want to help those organizations by getting their work published.

Remember throughout that your purpose is to connect the audience to the subjects. If at anytime you forget one of these you will be unsuccessful. Why should your audience care? Why do the subjects need their story told?

Letzia stays at home and her husband works in the fields in Akil in the Yucatan region of Mexico.

Before your go

The time to connect with media outlets is before you go and not after for many reasons. The major reason is that had the media outlet knew you would be doing the coverage they could have given you valuable direction that would increase the chances of being published.

If you can write or do video as well then be sure and offer these skills as part of the package. I know many humanitarian photographers who offer some of these skills for their clients:

  • Twitter feeds while on the field
  • Blog posts when they return for the client 
  • Multimedia package
  • Audio recordings for the web

Very often an editor might direct you to cover a certain angle that would appeal to their audience. If you are really interested in getting interest for the organization then you do what you can to get the organization in front of the audience.

The story will change before you even go if you take time to reach out to as many media outlets as you can. It is quite possible that they may have a story for you to cover while you are there as well.

These boys are enjoying the stream just outside the village of Konadouga, Burkina Faso.  They were a little surprised at seeing the white man with the camera taking their photo.  In just ten miles we went through 30 different languages spoken by the tribes in the area. 

While you are there

It is rare that I have ever been on an overseas trip that the story we thought we were going to do doesn’t change after we arrive. In some form or another they will tell you that you just missed it or that doesn’t happen while you are here.  This doesn’t matter if you did all your research to perfection. Often people heard something different than what you said, or they just didn’t want to risk telling you the truth and you not come to help them.

Be sure you get names of people in the photos, the places you were when you made the photos and a good description of what is going on in the photo that isn’t always understood when looking at the photo.

Types of photos

Everyone smiling and looking at the camera are snapshots and memory joggers. For the most part this is not what the media is looking for at all.

I have written on the three types of photos: 1) “Literal” Snapshots; 2) “Artistic” Snapshot and 3) “Expressive” images that are taken for others and not yourself. for more about those three styles you can read this earlier blog post:

Feb 27, 2011
We all start with the literal snapshot and often revisit this stage of photography. These literal snapshots are primarily taken for the photographer. These photos are “memory joggers.” They help you remember the moment.

Here are some major mistakes photographers make while doing what they call is “humanitarian photography.”

I wrote about them before but I think this warrants repeating here again.

Street scenes in Tikul in the Yucatan, Mexico

Some clues that you have crossed the line into narcissism:

  • When asked why you are doing the photography your motivation is about you having a good experience.
  • When your conversation is all about the gear you are using. This is an indication of self-indulgence.
  • When you are evaluating a trip if you have that country stamped in your passport.
  • When you cannot tell the stories of the people you just met on the trip.
  • When you cannot explain how your photos are helping further the work of the people in the photos.
  • When you are taking people’s pictures and rarely have ever asked permission or care to ask permission.
  • When you ask people to look at your pictures.
  • When you evaluate the photos based on how artistic they are for your taste.
  • When you are pushing all the time to go with teams on trips.
  • Have a mentor and ask how well you are doing.
You really need to pause and be sure the reasons you are doing the coverage are for the people that need the help. The more you serve them it actually is more rewarding than serving yourself.

Mexican side of the border in Agua Prieta, Mexico which borders Douglas, AZ.

How to keep a healthy ego
  • You know your purpose for photographing on a trip.
  • You know the subject really well.
  • You have taken the time to get to know the people you are photographing.
  • You are asking permission to photograph people.
  • You always have in mind your audience when making photos.
  • You have people calling you to be involved in their project.
  • You are concerned that the photos you made are making a difference.
  • You are concerned about exploiting people and their situation for your personal gain.
  • Have a mentor and asking what you can do to improve.
  • You know when someone else would do a better job and you step aside for now.
  • You know you need to improve and feel the burden to improve for your client’s sake.
Night time along the Mexican and US border in the town of Douglas, AZ.
When you get back

Contact those who were interested in running your work. Maybe a quick photo as a teaser and then short message that you just returned. You will be getting your work to them by a certain time.

Some editors will have given you a deadline before you go. Always try and not only meet the deadline, but exceed it and get the material to them before they asked for it.

Be sure to explain if the coverage had to change and why. If they have traveled at all they will understand. What they may not understand is if it is not at all along the lines of what you talked to them about and in this case it might not run in their media.

You can always go back to all those editors who turned you down, which I highly recommend, and let them see what you have. They may change their mind.

Photojournalism has given me better perspective and focus

Job 42:5
My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you.

What a privilege

I am reminded over and over as I do my job as a photojournalist how really cool it is to be invited into people’s lives and get to see how they live, work and play.

Sometimes I have been invited into people’s lives during tragedy as I was years ago to photograph the Newberry family. Their son Philip contracted spiral meningitis and due to this Philip lost both hands and feet to the disease.

What was a devastating experience became such a walk of faith by a family. How powerful of a story to see a family transformed in such a positive way.

When I get invited into homes I do not see the poverty as much as I am seeing a person sharing the most intimate space of their lives. What impacts me over and over is how most people with so little are so happy in life.

While in West Africa in Burkina Faso I met a husband and wife with their newborn child. This one room hut with a dirt floor was filled with the love of a mother and father for their child.

When I traveled to the Yucatan I was invited into the home of a family where they all lived in one room.  I thought it was so cool to see how they made use of space using hammocks at night for sleeping. During the day those hammocks can be moved to give room for the kitchen or work they might do in the same room.

Early I would be so hesitant to ask to photograph families in their homes that showed such poverty. Today I realize they are as proud of their homes as I am of where I live. Here a teenager is proud of his own room.

Comparing his situation to the families living in the space he calls his room lets me know he is better off than many people around the world.

I was excited to be invited to photograph Almond Standard who built his log cabin home in his late 60’s. He was so proud of being able to use his skills to build this home from scratch all by himself. The only thing he didn’t do himself was the roof.

Perspective Shift

Meeting people from all walks of life and seeing how they live around the world makes me appreciate my situation so much more. I also realize that I live so much better than most of the world. Had I never traveled to distant places my perspective would be based on living in the suburbs of Metro Atlanta. I would see how so many live better than me and that I was more towards the bottom of the socio economic scale.

Now having more of a broader perspective I know I am living way above most of the world in my lifestyle.

While you may be able to take vacations that are designed to see exotic locations I recommend you go and experience the world from another perspective. Get involved with a non-profit and volunteer your time. Travel with the non-profit to another part of the world and help give back. You will start to broaden your horizons and this will change your life forever. It changed mine.

New Focus

I want my time to count now days after the experiences I have had in life. I want to live a life of doing something positive. I hope to use my camera to help those who are voiceless and marginalized by the world.

I want you to know these people so you too can feel more in touch to the world and not just in touch with your neighborhood alone.

How to become a humanitarian or missions photographer

New church and well being built in Becanchen, Yucatan, Mexico. [Nikon D3, ISO 200, f/8, 1/100, 24-120mm]

“I feel God calling me into missions photography …” or “I want to be a humanitarian photographer and would like to meet you,” are two things I am hearing almost weekly now. 

To make this dream a reality is to engage your head and your heart in this journey.

Reasons not to become a humanitarian/missions photographer

1. The field is overcrowded. If you live in a major city like Atlanta you are very much aware of traffic jams.  Another great comparison is going to Universal Studios or Disney World.  You are going to stand in a very long line because this is a very popular job. This field is not just crowded, every day more and more people are wanting and trying to become photographers.

Fernanda washes clothes and makes hammocks for a living in Akil.  Her son Roberto Carlos has finished school and wants to go to college. They live in the Yucatan in Mexico. [Nikon D3, ISO 200, f/5, 1/8, 24-120mm]
2. Most photographers do it for free.  Translation–it is very difficult to make a living. How will you compete against others who will not only do it for free, but pay their way to cover a cause around the world?
Mayan family at their home in the Yucatan, Mexico. [Nikon D3, ISO 200, f/5.6, 1/250, 24-120mm]
3. It requires a large financial investment.  You need cameras, lenses, flashes, memory cards, computers, software, and training to use all this.  Did you notice the list was multiples? Everything requires a backup because equipment will fail and you must still deliver.

4. It is a business. Since the 1970’s staff jobs are actually dwindling.  More and more photographers are freelancers who must pay higher taxes and higher healthcare insurance than their staff counterparts.  Don’t forget you need camera insurance and liability. You must first be a business person and then a photographer.

 
David Woods stopped on our drive to BoBo from Ouagadougou, Burkina Faso for our lunch. You need to be able to eat a variety of food when you travel. [Nikon D2X, ISO 100, f/8, 1/320, 24-120mm]

5. You have to be outstanding and not average. If you watched American Idol then you have a good comparison to this industry, but the numbers are greater.  Everyone owns a camera and many think they can make great photos. American Idol auditions hundreds of thousands to get it down to 25. If you go back to past seasons not all of those 25 finalists are making a living at it. The odds are similar in photography. There are many great photographers, but they didn’t have the complete package to make it.

6. Everyone owns a camera and can make a photo. Think about this for a while. Why pay you to photograph something when they can take it themselves?

7. 95% of your time you are not making pictures. Even the most successful National Geographic Magazine photographers spend only a fraction of their time shooting. Most of the time you are researching a topic or an organization trying to find ways you can help them achieve their goals.

 

Diane Zuma plays with water at well in Koudougou, Burkina Faso. There are two types of wells in this area: one which is open and not safe to drink from and this one which is deep and is covered and much safer to drink. (Photo By: Stanley Leary) [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 18-50mm ƒ/2.8G, ISO 100, ƒ/5, 1/320]

8. It’s not about you. If you want to take pictures because you have an interest in something, well unless an audience is willing to pay you to see your work there is no career for you. The most successful photographers today are not focused on telling a story with their camera–they are focused on connecting the subject with the audience to achieve a goal.

There is no AAA roadside assistance in Burkina Faso. My host David Woods repairs the truck that just lost a belt on the side of the road. [Nikon D2X, ISO 100, f/2.8, 1/2000, 24-120mm]

Here are some questions you need to answer

1) Why do you want to be a photographer? If your answer is I like to take pictures and meet people, then keep on doing this as a hobby.  If you want to tell the stories of some people you have met, you still need to keep this a hobby.

Humanitarian and missions photographers are goal focused. When I am photographing an orphan I am wanting to help them find a parent. Some who will see my photos may give money to cover their housing and food until they find a parent and this good, but my goal is to move people’s hearts to take this child in.

My goal is not to tell the orphan’s story. Do you see the difference?

Surgeon Danny Crawley is in theatre doing a hernia operation and Comfort Bawa, theatre assistant helps him at the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu, Ghana. (Photo by: Stanley Leary) [NIKON D2X, AF Zoom 18-50mm ƒ/2.8G, ISO 400, ƒ/2.8, 1/160]

2) Why should you be the photographer? If the goal is to do something, why are you the best selection and not a professional photographer who has given their life to not just taking pictures, but to the cause? If the goal is to get an orphan adopted why would anyone want to have a photographer shoot it that has never helped anyone get adopted verses the photographer that does. Think about it why not hire William Albert Allard who made the famous photos of the little shepherd boy who lost his heard to a reckless driver in Peru? Allard’s photos moved the readers of National Geographic Magazine to replace his herd and then some.

A mass of people wait for medical treatment at the Baptist Medical Centre in Nalerigu, Ghana. They are all waiting for Dr. George Faile to see them that day.  [Nikon D2X, ISO 400, f/2.8, 1/25, 18-50mm]

3) What are you doing to be the very best photographer? Organizations that want to achieve their goals are not going to let just anyone photograph for them.  Actually they want to keep most photographers away from their projects.  Many photographers will do more harm than good.  Too many photographers are just trying to build a portfolio rather than help.

I am called to be a photographer
Just like a professional musician you will need to study the craft and find a teacher/mentor.  Even in Star Wars Luke had to find Yoda to help teach him the skills to become a Jedi Knight. My suggestions:
Take classes in the following:

a. Business and marketing – You need to understand how to price your work, how to negotiate with a client and most importantly how to find a client.
b. Psychology – You need to be able to work with a variety of people from all walks of life. You need to be able to get to know people in the most intimate way possible in the shortest time possible, because you will be telling their story as an expert on their life.
c. Photography – You need to know how to make your camera do what will work in any situation. You need to be able to not just capture something, but help capture it in a way that sets the mood as well as captures the moments. To do this you will need to master: Aperture; Shutter Speed; Hot Shoe Flashes; Studio Strobes; Available Light; Composition and much more.

We ate in a coffee growers home in El Aguilia, Mexico. [Nikon D3S, ISO 12800, f/5.6, 1/60, 14-24mm]
2. Study the masters – You will need to become a master.  Remember the organization will hire the person they think is best suited to help them achieve their goal. You need to become the expert they want on their team. The best way to do this is to study all the great photojournalists that have gone before you. You need to know why their work was so successful.

3. Study with a master – Take a workshop with someone who is known for storytelling that also is known to help organizations meet their goals.  I will be teaching you how to photograph in another culture, how to tell the story and reach your audience with the message.

4. Go to seminars and workshops to get inspiration.  You will be able to hear successful photographers talk about their work. The room is often filled with current masters of humanitarian and missions photography.

5. Get critiqued to learn – Don’t show your work to just get pats on the back. Show you work to people who can point out the basic things you are missing early in your career and as you grow can teach you about the nuances. If your purpose is only to show your work and have everyone applaud only – well then you need to keep this as a hobby, because even the masters of the craft look for ways to get even better.