1. Photography and filming for charities and changemakers

    mother and baby in Turkana, Kenya

    On our last four or five trips I have been taking photographs and filming. Having the ability to shoot both on the same camera has really altered the way I work and is starting to shape my career too. Essentially we have evolved into a small footprint production team that can capture photos, film and audio to accompany our stories. A real bonus of being able to shoot both stills and movie on the same kit is the ability to be more discrete and of course it helps to keep the costs down too.

    We often find ourselves working in tight spaces and in sensitive environments, whether that be in hospitals or people’s homes and so it helps not having massive cameras and a big team of people.  Also the latest DSLR cameras perform really well in low light and so can cope quite easily in darker locations with out the need for lights. I was recently filming in a hospital in Ethiopia and the doctor couldn’t believe I just had a small camera, because a couple of weeks earlier the film crew had a big film camera and a set of lights. I was able to scrub up and discreetly get some footage without getting in the way. Once I had what I needed I was out and back on the wards.

    This time last year we were commissioned by Merlin to collect stories, photographs and film about the impact of their work in Kenya. We had ten days to cover a lot of ground. Below are just a few examples of what we collected up in Turkana, northern Kenya, where we spent a couple of days visiting some really remote areas. There is also a short film about the trip.

    What you are seeing below is an antenatal meeting under a tree. Many, if not all, of these pregnant ladies had walked for over an hour to get there and some considerably further distances. For some this was their first appointment ever, despite being on their third, fourth or even fifth pregnancy!

    Merlin photo assignment in Kenya

    pregant mothers meet under a tree in Turkana, Kenya

    Merlin photo assignment in Kenya

    Merlin photo assignment in Kenya

    weighing a baby under a tree

    midwife in turkana, Kenya

    Merlin photo assignment in Kenya

    midwife listens to babies heart beat

    mother and baby in Turkana, Kenya

    Sign up to our blog, by simply adding your email address, to make sure you don’t miss our latest work, along with hints and tips on how to get the most out of your story gathering.  We always love to hear your thoughts so please do leave any comments below, thank you.

    1. Tom Bashford

      Interesting to read – as one of the doctors that Ben has photographed at work (while working in Ethiopia with VSO) I was really impressed with his ability to get both great images and film without ever feeling like he was in the way. I think that getting honest, spontaneous images is really important, especially when communicating health stories, but this is tricky to achieve and has difficult issues associated with it around consent and the interaction of the photographer/film maker with the scene they’re capturing. The huge benefit I’ve seen with the newer technologies is that patients and relatives can be shown both the images and film that have been taken of them and then give their consent on the basis of what they’ve seen – and can be satisfied that images are deleted there and then if they choose to remove their consent. I think this makes it much easier to be really confident that they’re happy with the images that are going to be used. In addition, it allows the capture of really intense situations without the worry that a camera, crew and equipment are interfering with the scenario at hand; some of the situations that were captured with me were very tense but I totally forgot that Ben was even in the room until after things had calmed down! It’s only by communicating the work that is being done that we can generate the support to fund future projects, so I think it’s great to see new and effective ways of doing this.

      • Ben Langdon

        Thanks Tom. It makes a huge difference to have the support of the doctor/medical team you are working with and the key to that is good communication up front, so that everyone understands why there is a camera in the room. That allows me/the camera operator to move more freely and as part of the team, as opposed to being just a viewer. It’s also helpful to have the benefit of your eyes and things to look out for.

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