The Dust Layer

Currently I am in Kosovo to finally produce the multimedia content I am researching for 1 1/2 years with my team. I've been working hard on this, especially to find a way to fund the trip. Finally we made it. We arrived last week on Friday, after almost one week, I gathered around 60 GB of material. Videos, photographs, audio recordings... and it's not yet done. Two more days to go.

Update: 21.03.2016

We've been back for a week now. Each of us in his or her country. All the material gathered, all the impressions we got, it needs to be settled. Speaking for myself, I can say that often interviews really touched me, especially when I imagined that the situation is already for ages like this. The smell, the air, the pollution, the discomfort in daily life. As a journalist, we are there to discover, to point at things that are wrongfully, but we are also humans, so sometimes it is not easy to cope with this situation.

It was my first field trip, like really in the field, through bushes and mud. There are some things I realised very quickly and I thought I'd share them with you.

  1. Clothes: Take pants and jackets you feel comfy in, don't care about the style, take shoes which are warm and jackets which keep you warm. A coat is definitely not the right choice. REMEMBER that. Especially if you are reporting about an environment topic, bring good shoes, when standing there for hours, you will remember my words.
  2. Time: After spending around 10 days day and night out there, you still feel that it was not enough and you could have done more or done better with more time. Plan three weeks, if possible. I realised that every day there was a new connection, a new piece of the puzzle that fitted in. So not only you will have more time to evolve the story, but you will also have the time to rest for a day.
  3. Scheduling: Get as much contacts before the trip and write people beforehand and plan plan plan. Once you are on the ground, it will not work out as planned, but at least you got contacts and you can react quickly.
  4. Be Spontaneous: What I mean by that is to be open to talk with people about your project you've never met before. Sure the feeling has to be right, but to give you an example. My first contact got another one who translated in the end for us. He, the translator, knew a guy who operates drones. One thing leads to another. A guy in the hostel had a friend who is very much into that topic and has a NGO working with the environment, so we got his contact and he, in return, helped us to get to know other people. It is luck, but it is also a skill to feel these kind of opportunities. 
  5. Shotlist: A thing I haven't done before, but maybe I should have done it, latest after the first day. As a photographer, you can help yourself in writing frames down you want to have. The same for an interview, what do you want. Better take 20 GB more than too less. Create a form to print for every interview, not to forget names, contacts and very important, if you interview minors, a media release.
  6. Team: Especially for me as a photographer, I valued to have a team with and around me. It gives me the freedom to sneak around the happening, take the frames I need and want. People get focused on someone else and forget you and your creepy lens, that helps a lot to capture what you really want - life.

These points sound obvious and are very simple, and experienced reporters might know them by heart, but sometimes a topic grabs your full attention, so having things written down that keep reminding you every day, not only don't you forget things, but it will make you a better journalist and researcher.