My first thought? DON’T. I’m thankful that there are people who do, though, like documentarian Tim Freccia:
Tim Freccia just returned from shooting Saving South Sudan, where he worked in one of the bloodiest conflicts on earth. Here’s how he got the work done, even under threat of Ugandan gunships.
Tim’s covered crisis and conflict around the world — Haiti, Libya, Congo, Somalia, Kashmir and more — for outlets including Vice, Al Jazeera, the BBC, Der Spiegel, TIME and many others, in both photo and video. He’s been doing it since 1989 too and hasn’t died yet, so we figured he must know a thing or two about working in war zones.
IW: You’re sticking a camera in someone’s face while they’re sticking a gun in yours. How do you avoid being shot?
TF: I’ve been covering conflict for nearly three decades. This doesn’t mean just grabbing a camera and parachuting into a war zone. I spend a lot of time getting to know my subjects. This means living with them, establishing rapport, trust, mutual camaraderie or fear, whatever. By the time a guy is sticking a gun in my face, I’ve likely gotten to know him pretty well and evidently know how to talk him into not waving that gun at me.
At the end of this last trip, I actually told a gun-waving kid that if he pointed it at me again, I’d beat him with it and stick it up his ass.
Conflict is dangerous. The biggest risk is being hit by something from relatively far away. A lot of younger shooters and journalists believe that their concern for the victims of conflict will somehow make them bulletproof. It may sound macho, but it’s really not: after bonding with me, my subjects really don’t want to fuck with me too much.