This Is What You Bring To Shoot A Violent Revolution (And Not Get Mugged)

This Is What You Bring To Shoot A Violent Revolution (And Not Get Mugged)

Any photographer will tell you it’s not about the gear, it’s about the photographer. Nonetheless, it’s illuminating what NYT photographer Stephen Farrell chose to bring (and not bring) to shoot the Egyptian revolution in Tahrir Square, given how specifically hostile the environment was to journalists.

The main shooting gear:

• A black trash bag to hide his camera bag
Sanyo Xacti
JVC GY-HM100U – because it’s easy to use and strip down to nothing
• Panasonic LX-3

Obliterated was any gear that screamed “journalist”, like a shotgun mic or tripod or camera light, swapped for Petzl headlamps and Octopods. Non-negotiable, says Farrell, are “three or four phones” because of theft; satellite phones because of the self-induced internet Stone Age in Egypt; tons of storage and backups.

Consider how much gear that is, and how much gear it’ll take to do the same job in a few years. Phones will shoot 1080p video this year. It won’t be very great, but they’ll do it. And next year will be better. And mirrorless camera systems, like Panasonic’s GF1 or Sony’s NEX may be the future of hybrid cameras. It’ll be interesting to see what’s considered non-negotiable then. But in the meantime, check out Farrell’s full account of shooting a revolution in the making. [Lens, Image: Stephen Farrell/NYT]