Ask WND

You’ve got questions. We’ve got answers.
Each month, the World Next Door team tries to help you out with the stuff we know a lot about.
Travel, social justice, photojournalism – We can help with it all.

Do you pack snacks when you travel?  What snacks do you pack?

-Tasha

Welllll, I used to not pack snacks when I traveled because I generally carry an extra 10 pounds of backup food in my… um… reserves. But several things happened that changed my mind.

I once found myself in Cambodia at the 36-hour mark with no food or water due to miscommunication, and I silently saluted my teammates who were 40 minutes away rolling in Clif Bars. Snack #1: a moderate supply of protein bars for emergency meal replacements.

Another time, I was presented with a breakfast of two French loaves every single day for 45 days straight. On day 40, I shook my head as I remembered the 20 packs of instant oatmeal sitting on the counter at home. I had taken them out of my bag at the last minute thinking I was being superfluous.  Snack #2: instant oatmeal—a nutritious and filling alternative to mystery meat and 40 days of French loaves.

Snack #3: Emergen-C and/or Crystal Light flavor packets. These handy powders take an ordinary water bottle up a notch when you haven’t eaten dessert in a month, you’re sick of room-temperature water, and YOU JUST WANT SOME SUGAR! If you opt for the Emergen-C (my personal favorite is the fizzy raspberry), you get a bunch of vitamins, too!

Additional snacks recommended by World Next Door team members: nuts, peanut butter, crackers, and the occasional six-pack of double-stuffed Oreos. Just kidding. I made that last one up. But seriously, Oreos.

-Brooke Hartman

If we’re in another country and want to photograph someone, like a child, what is the best way to not appear intrusive?

-Linda

It’s always a balancing act, isn’t it? You want to capture the wonderful memories of your trip, to share the faces of the people you meet with your friends and family back home. But you don’t want to be that guy or that gal, who turns photography into a massive distraction, or worse, a massive offense.

Thankfully, it’s possible to be a photographer without stepping on toes. It just takes the right approach:

Ask permission! This shouldn’t even need to be said, but you’d be surprised how many people snap travel photos like they’re at a zoo. Does that person want their photo taken? Is getting that shot really more important than building a relationship? Start by asking if you can take a photo and you’ll be far more likely to capture smiles instead of glares.

Explain yourself. Many people won’t know why you want to take their picture. Are you going to sell it and become rich? Are you with the government? Are you stealing their soul? These may seem like outlandish ideas, but I’ve heard them all. It’s best to explain that you are taking the photo because you don’t want to forget them or you want to help the host ministry tell its story or you want to show people back home what their beautiful country is like.

Be respectful. Imagine if people were to come to your home and start snapping photos of everything. How crazy would that be? In general, it’s best to be very careful and err on the side of missing the shot, especially if your subject is in pain, distress or a situation they’d consider embarrassing or shameful. Put yourself in their shoes before pulling out your camera.

Make it a gift. Don’t just take photos of people. Give them photos as well! Whether this means going to a local photo shop to get 4×6 prints made or simply showing them the final product on your camera’s LCD screen, showing your subject their beautiful face is a great way to bring dignity.

As you can see, there are no hard and fast rules for being a non-intrusive photographer, but with the right posture and approach, you can get great shots without doing more harm than good.

-Barry Rodriguez