March 29th, 2012

Free Conflict-Training Course Now Accepting Applications

Photojournalists covering conflict zones can now apply for Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues (RISC) training. RISC, which was founded by journalist and author Sebastian Junger, currently has courses scheduled for New York City in April 2012, London in fall 2012 and Beirut in winter 2012/2013. Each three-day workshop focuses on teaching attendees crucial combat medical skills.

Junger was a friend of the late photojournalist Tim Hetherington, with whom he collaborated on the documentary Restrepo. He started RISC after he learned that Hetherington, who was killed by a mortar in Misrata, Libya, last year, could have survived his injuries if someone on the ground with him knew basic lifesaving techniques.

“Combat photographers like Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington regularly take chances that many writers wouldn’t dream of, and as a result they suffer a disproportionate number of casualties,” Junger says. “RISC is an attempt to train freelancers in battlefield medicine and equip them with combat medical packs so that they can render aid immediately and effectively. The industry has gone far too long without providing any medical training for the people—mostly freelance photographers—who run most of the risks.”

Most conflict-training courses can be costly. However, applicants accepted into RISC courses are only required to pay for their own travel and food expenses. Housing and workshop costs are covered with funds raised by RISC. Many media organizations have donated funding for the first round of workshops, including ABC News, National Geographic, Vanity Fair and Condé Nast, and Getty Images.

The first workshop takes place in New York City April 18 through 20, which is the one-year anniversary of Hetherington’s death. At the time of this writing, all but three of the 24 spots were filled, with eight people on the waiting list. Applicants were chosen based on the amount of time they’ve spent in conflict zones. RISC’s mission is to train experienced conflict reporters, photojournalists and other members of the media who will use the medical skills on future assignments. The workshops do not include hostile environment training, such as preparation for loud noises, surprise attacks or mitigating personal risk.

Though the dates aren’t set for the London and Beirut workshops, RISC has already received applications for both cities (42 and 15, respectively). Regardless, the organization encourages journalists to continue to apply since it plans on holding courses once a year in all three cities.

Go to risctraining.org to apply for workshops and get more information.

Related Articles:

Survival Training for Conflict Zones
What to Expect if You’re Injured on Assignment
In Case of Emergency: Recommended Practices for Notifications
Chris Hondros and Tim Hetherington: A Reflection

February 28th, 2012

Hey Conflict Photographers: Are You in the New HBO Series?

HBO, the premium cable network, has agreed to air a four-episode documentary series, “Witness,” about war photographers. The Hollywood Reporter says the documentaries, produced and directed by Michael Mann and David Frankham, will follow young photographers covering conflict in Mexico, Brazil, Uganda and Libya.

Not yet announced, however, is who the featured photographers are. So we want to know: Have Michael Mann and David Frankham asked if they can follow you around with cameras while you’re trying to document conflict? If not, do you care to make a guess which war photographers the series might feature?

The pilot has been shot in Juarez, Mexico, but three more episodes are in the works. We’re pretty sure that, given the HBO audience, the featured photographers will be English speakers, and at least one will be a woman. And they’ll be telegenic.

Does the reality of war make appropriate fodder for reality TV?

In a statement, Mann says: “David Frankham and I share an admiration for combat photography that captures the universal — and sometimes the indescribable — in a single frame in the midst of chaos and danger.” Frankham notes, “The direction Michael and I took in creating Witness was to immerse the audience via intimacy with the photographer into the intensity of a situation as it’s developing, as they risk their lives to capture one piece of the truth.”