A big part of my NGO involvment in Ethiopia revolves around the interviewing and documenting of programme participants, civilians like you and me who take part in short and long-term support programmes in order to test the efficacy of a wide range of aid solutions. Whilst some of these interviews take place on the side of a track, allowing easy access to the 4×4, many visits require a drive, trek, and climb to get to the small clusters of homesteads out in the middle of nowhere. Documenting these stories and experiences will often require a fair amount of gear; audio recording, photography, and videography take decidedly different approaches and whilst some of the gear overlaps, much does not. Microphones strapped to my backpack is a thing. I tend to go through gear at a bit of a pace, usually opting for the cheaper end of the market in case bad weather or poor technique requires a camera body or lens to be replaced. I used to think every pro needed the best gear but quickly changed my mind once working full time as a photographer. Now the best gear for me is usually in the middle of the spectrum – often quite a bit cheaper than the top end but typically 85% as functional and cheaper to fix or replace. I’ve even been known to shoot modern projects on a well-aged 10-year-old Nikon D700 to great success. It’s worth remembering that many clients these days focus their attention on social, meaning what was once an essential aspect of professional photography, the high resolution and print-worthy image, is now often lower on the list of objectives. Most of my clients these days prefer a solid selection of images and drone shots for social over a couple of detailed and PP’d high res prints. Changing markets certainly keep this profession on its toes.
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