Digital Witness: Photography in Crisis Zones

In one of my first conversations at SwitchPoint, Neil Brandvold told me about RISC (Reporters Instructed for Saving Colleagues) a training program for journalists in conflict zones. After a few beers and stories from Neil on Wednesday, I was thrilled to hear him present on the first day of the conference.

As a conflict photojournalist, he as a reporting witness to culture changing moments throughout the world.

Neil's presentation focused on his coverage of the Ebola epidemic in Liberia and Sierra Leone and an underreported story about vaccinations for other diseases for children in West Africa.

Neil showed photos and video of his work and discussed the difficulties the frontline health workers had working and spreading accurate information during the crisis. So you can get a feel for his work, I've included a few videos of Neil's coverage of Ebola. His work is incredible. 

Neil's Coverage of Ebola

I created a Storify of all of the #SwitchPoint tweets during his presentation. 

How is this Designing for the Fringe?

It's not my typical story for designing for the fringe, but his work is too important not to share because of a technicality. 

As a conflict photo journalist, Neil's work tells the stories of those who are dying and/or disenfranchised. His coverage of Ebola helped us understand what it's like to be a front-line healthcare worker in a difficult situation where rumors were spreading faster than the disease.

Because of his talk and his work I have a better understanding of the situation. I see how anyone associated with Ebola either because they had it and recovered, they lost family members and/or they were a health worker are still being stigmatized and shunned in their community. 

I also enjoyed hearing about his coverage of the lessor covered vaccinations for other diseases in West Africa. His account of the giggling mothers who were thrilled to have their babies vaccinated was a refreshing story after the weighty Ebola discussion. 

We had a gross misunderstanding of the impact of Ebola on those countries affected and not it is no longer a part of our regular conversation. Even though the citizens of the US no longer think about Ebola, Sierra Leone, Guinea and Liberia are still feeling the devastating effects

More about Neil Brandvold

I encourage you to check out more of Neil's work on his website: