Protocol for Hiring Photographers in Emergencies

In a fast onset emergency that will receive significant media coverage, it can be crucial to hire a professional photographer (and possibly videographer) as quickly as possible in order to capture the situation and CARE’s response.

All photography and film commissions should be coordinated by the Lead Member, in consultation with the Country Office, with input from other CI Members and coordinated through the Secretariat. In a rapid onset emergency, it is the responsibility of the relevant tollow-the-sun (FTS) member to begin identifying, contacting and preparing a brief for photographers/videographers.

The initial judgement on whether to contract a photographer will be made by the Office-in-Charge of contract. If the initial decision is not to hire a photographer, this decision will be revisited if necessary, based on input from the Regional Communications Advisor CI Secretariat communications and other CI members.

Experience shows that the best results come from hiring one person for photography and another for film. The skill sets are different and it’s impractical for one person to juggle two sets of equipment or have to make a choice between one medium or another at a critical time. Where possible, country offices and Lead Members should aim to hire both skillsets, especially in emergencies with lots of high profile media attention. For smaller scale emergencies, or those with lower media profiles, the decision may be made to hire someone to focus on photo OR video, as most appropriate, rather than both mediums.

A list of existing, trusted photographers by location can be found on the CAREShares global communications hub here.

Once a photographer is contracted, the Regional Communications Advisor or Lead Member Media Manager (or deployed Emergency Communications Officer) will have primary responsibility for following up, providing the photographer with guidance and ensuring timely delivery in accordance with the TOR and CARE guidelines, but sharing this responsibility as appropriate in line with the follow-the-sun protocol for emergency communication (see previous section above).

Before commissioning a photographer, you should fully brief them on our photographic guidelines (contact the Lead Member for details).

Developing a photo brief

  • Think through what is essential and must be photographed, and what would be nice to photograph but isn’t essential. Is there anything that shouldn’t be photographed?
  • Photographer must be briefed on CARE’s consent policy, policy on communicating with vulnerable groups and provided with consent forms
  • What access do you have and what is possible? You may need to do two commissions: one to show how the emergency has affected women and girls, and a later one to show what CARE is doing to help. Always remember that women and girls should be the main focus of any commission.
  • Brief the photographer about the current situation and the key issues facing women and girls, as well as what we’re doing or planning to do to help.
  • Be clear about the key stories you want covered, and where you’ll be using the photos. Do you want one woman’s story? A mother or elderly woman angle? A photo story of daily life? A particular shot for fundraising purposes? A shot to convey the immediacy or aftermath of fighting? These details will give the photographer a much clearer idea of what you want and he/she is more likely to be able to get you what you want.
  • It’s very important that the photographer is briefed to ensure they approach people, especially those with additional vulnerabilities, in an appropriate manner.
  • If you have specific media outlets in mind, tell the photographer.
  • Give the photographer details of key contact names and phone numbers.
    • Have those contacts been informed properly of their roles and responsibilities for the photographer’s visit?
  • Include an outline of CARE’s photographic style and requirements for deliverables i.e format, captioning, file naming etc.
  • Photographer should be briefed on how to upload images to CARE Images (and provided with access to do so)
  • Remember to speak to the Lead Member’s communications team to get input into the brief as well as other relevant members.
  • Share the brief with the country director and/or emergency response team leader

A TOR template for hiring a photographer/videographer in emergencies can be found on CARE Shares Global Communications Hub here.