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Photographer
PicBack
Posts: 621
New York, New York, US


I am flying out to Ethiopia in the middle of May to photograph a new school project.

While I have shot in quite a few places worldwide (including South America) this will be my first time in sub-saharan Africa. Apart from the usual advice about being generally street smart and covering up logos, what should I keep in mind?

The main issues I can think of are customs going in and out. Theft, voltage, heat and dust.
Mar 26 13 07:28 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Margaret Hope
Posts: 840
Seattle, Washington, US


Drink as much coffee as you can and eat the injera. Eat with your hands. Eating with utensils is a "no-no". Part of my family is from Ethiopia and they tell me they have the best coffee.
Mar 26 13 07:37 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Margaret Hope
Posts: 840
Seattle, Washington, US


PicBack wrote:
While I have shot in quite a few places worldwide (including South America) this will be my first time in sub-saharan Africa. Apart from the usual advice about being generally street smart and covering up logos, what should I keep in mind?

The main issues I can think of are customs going in and out. Theft, voltage, heat and dust.

It's called common sense use it. Drink tons of water and wear sunscreen.

Mar 26 13 07:40 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 21,176
New York, New York, US


I've shot quite a bit in the region, but most of my time was spent in Senegal and Mauritania. 

Your biggest hurdles will be getting your gear through customs.  If you are going to be working with an NGO, have a representative meet you at the airport.  Make sure you have some cash in case you have to pay any extra "fees" to collect your gear.

Locals are very used to foreigners coming and taking their picture.  Often these photos make their way back and they are not pleased with them - at all.  As a result, street photography can be rough.  Your best bet is to be very kind, exceptionally polite and always ask permission.  If you must shoot candids, wear a camera strap and run a cable release to a pocket.  Focus to infinity and hope.

Try not to take the same old garbage stereotypical photos.  Get to know the people you are photographing - work with them, cook with them, eat with them, make tea with them.  Then you will have good subjects.

You're going to need a bunch of vaccinations.  Don't wait until the last minute to get them, some can have you out of sorts for a few days after you get them.

Malaria pills (if the prescribe them to you) are an odd lot.  They make you almost as sick as having malaria.  Most expats who live there go without.  I took them, due to where I was going to be and the time of year.  I also slept under mosquito netting when possible.  Sometimes it wasn't possible.  Do what you will with this.

Lastly, enjoy the experience.  You will come back a changed person and that's probably a good thing.

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/535586_10151246966441707_780088683_n.jpg
Mar 26 13 07:51 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PicBack
Posts: 621
New York, New York, US


Margaret Hope wrote:
Drink as much coffee as you can and eat the injera. Eat with your hands. Eating with utensils is a "no-no". Part of my family is from Ethiopia and they tell me they have the best coffee.

I am a huge coffee fan (and snob) so that is very much on the list!

Lots of time in Morocco, so no problem with eating the right way.

Mar 26 13 07:58 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PicBack
Posts: 621
New York, New York, US


Giacomo Cirrincioni wrote:
I've shot quite a bit in the region, but most of my time was spent in Senegal and Mauritania. 

Your biggest hurdles will be getting your gear through customs.  If you are going to be working with an NGO, have a representative meet you at the airport.  Make sure you have some cash in case you have to pay any extra "fees" to collect your gear.

Locals are very used to foreigners coming and taking their picture.  Often these photos make their way back and they are not pleased with them - at all.  As a result, street photography can be rough.  Your best bet is to be very kind, exceptionally polite and always ask permission.  If you must shoot candids, wear a camera strap and run a cable release to a pocket.  Focus to infinity and hope.

Try not to take the same old garbage stereotypical photos.  Get to know the people you are photographing - work with them, cook with them, eat with them, make tea with them.  Then you will have good subjects.

You're going to need a bunch of vaccinations.  Don't wait until the last minute to get them, some can have you out of sorts for a few days after you get them.

Malaria pills (if the prescribe them to you) are an odd lot.  They make you almost as sick as having malaria.  Most expats who live there go without.  I took them, due to where I was going to be and the time of year.  I also slept under mosquito netting when possible.  Sometimes it wasn't possible.  Do what you will with this.

Lastly, enjoy the experience.  You will come back a changed person and that's probably a good thing.

https://sphotos-a.xx.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ash3/535586_10151246966441707_780088683_n.jpg

Thanks for all the information, much appreciated. Love the photo and agree with your approach to shooting.

Can I take you out for lunch sometime and pick your brains? I am down in the Meatpacking district!

Mar 26 13 08:01 pm  Link  Quote 
guide forum
Photographer
Giacomo Cirrincioni
Posts: 21,176
New York, New York, US


PicBack wrote:

Thanks for all the information, much appreciated. Love the photo and agree with your approach to shooting.

Can I take you out for lunch sometime and pick your brains? I am down in the Meatpacking district!

Sure!  I'm slammed till after Easter, but the following week should see things easing up a tad.  Just send me a PM and we'll work something out before you go.

Mar 26 13 08:02 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
afplcc
Posts: 5,995
Fairfax, Virginia, US


PicBack wrote:
I am flying out to Ethiopia in the middle of May to photograph a new school project.

While I have shot in quite a few places worldwide (including South America) this will be my first time in sub-saharan Africa. Apart from the usual advice about being generally street smart and covering up logos, what should I keep in mind?

The main issues I can think of are customs going in and out. Theft, voltage, heat and dust.

Okay, it's been a VERY long time since I was to Ethiopia and the circumstances were very different.  So let me offer some advice with the initial caveat that it may be outdated--don't accept anything I'm saying on face value but confirm it.

1.  Shots.  Get some.  You used to be required to get a yellow fever vaccine--not sure if that's still true.  But for US travelers there are a bunch of vaccines that aren't required but are still smart to get.  I would think that Typhoid, Yellow Fever, and Hep-A for starters would all make sense.  Cholera for that part of the world used to make sense, I had a cholera vaccine.  VERY IMPORTANT:  don't just look at vaccines that are required for people coming from the US, but see if it matters where you're arriving from.  For instance, if you take an excursion to a neighboring country or don't fly in directly to AA from a Western Country (but instead get a flight from say...Nairobi), do the shot requirements change?  And bring your shot record.

2.  You'll probably still need a visa.  I think you can get it at Bole.

3.  Malaria is an issue for all locations in Ethiopia except the higher altitudes so get your pills.

4.  Some parts of Ethiopia (like AA) are at altitude.  If you're not in good shape or haven't had recent experience at altitude, you may suffer some altitude sickness.  It's not fun for those who have trouble adjusting.

5.  Safety:  kidnapping of Westerners is more of an issue now than it was when I was there.  Stay away from the border areas.  Visible camera equipment will make you a target on the streets.  And there's enough jihadi influence in East Africa that typical tips for safe travel (hanging around tourist areas or with other westerners) actually won't make you safer.  I"m not trying to make you paranoid, just be clear that some governments are recommending that their citizens not travel to Ethiopia.  It's a lot safer than some other East African countries but East Africa still sees a lot of turmoil in many places and it isn't confined to countries.  I don't know this firsthand but heard from a friend that there's a real pickpocket problem.   Not so much someone reaching in to your pocket but rather someone slashing open a backpack or purse, grabbing stuff and running.

6.  I was always able to use US dollars, everywhere.  Not sure if that's still true but dollars were a universal currency, even in the boonies.

7.  Confirm airline departure times.  The local airlines tends to change departure times abruptly (and without warning) so you could arrive at the airport to discover they moved up your flight time by 6 hours and your plane is gone.

8.  The other thing I remember from Ethiopia is that all the locals I dealt with handled time very different.  The time was referenced by sunrise or sunset.  So 2 o'clock is actually 8 o'clock...it's 2 hours past sunrise.  Our noon would be 6 o'clock to many locals.  Not sure if that's universal but it was true with the locals I dealt with.

Also, a few comments about other posts.  Yep, expect to get hit with some surprise and unannounced "fees".  Being a westerner it's assumed that you're rich so almost everything costs more--try to get a local to negotiate rides and tours for you.  If you're in AA, it actually gets cold at times b/c of the altitude so you'll want a coat.

Best of luck,

Ed

Mar 26 13 08:13 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Seniorbrucio
Posts: 104
Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates


Havent been to Ethiopia but I live in the Middle East and I travel throughout the region including africa.

Couple of things but first:

- Ethiopian women are stunning. There are tons here where I live and they are begging to be photographed for the most part. Long tall lean bodies. Beautiful carmel skin. Youd be remiss not taking advantage of that. So I would google something for women in Ethiopia and see if you can hook up with locals. Just be clear on what you intentions are as theres a lot of "mail order" sites out there.

Now for the formalities:

- Yellow fever may be an issue there. Get you shot anyways keep your YF card and do not lose it. The issue with YF is not getting into a YF zone its getting back into your own country. Many YF zone countries now wont let you in to prevent this hassle.

- Malaria. Dont mess around with this. Yes some long termers will regail in stories about how many times they've had it, how they dont need no stinkin' pills etc. Thing is you dont here from the ones who did get it and didnt survive or got seriously effed up. There are 4 different kinds of malaria. One of them is deadly serious. Its prevalent in Chad and CAR and the like but I am not sure about Ethiopia.

Check the WHO site and CDC sites and they will have info.

For malaria prevention here are some tips:

- Use the pills. Doxycyclin is what I use. Its relatively harmless though its rough on the guts sometimes. It also increases your photosentivity (not meaning you cry when you see a beautiful photo!) so you will burn easier in the sun. Doxy needs to be taken a few days before entering a Malaria zone, daily while there and for a month afterwards. Doxy is actually an antibiotic.

Larium is the most common one but some people have serious mental issues with this one. Some people dont but the risk is there. Good thing is you only have to take it once a week. The malarone stuff is supposed to be good. Once daily and little side effects. But its expensive so check your insurance.

- Wear "bug spray". There are two chemicals recommended by WHO. DEET and Picardin. DEET is the typical stuff found in OFF and the like. Its nasty. Its been around since the Vietnam war and maybe before. Its MELTS plastic so I'd avoid this. Plus it stinks.

I use Picardin and this can be found in the US no problem. Naturalpel is the brand I use. Make sure to get 20% picardin whatever brand you get. Bring more than you need and use it. All day.

- Dengue fever (breakbone) may also be an issue and most likely is. Carried by a different mosquito and found in the city and generally transmitted during the day. Use your spray.

- Take a mosquito net. Impregnated with permethrin. Nasty stuff but kills bugs on contact.

- Impregnate your clothes with permethrin if you can get it. Its real nasty stuff but works great. Google it and you should be able to find some. It last through several washings.

- Bring long sleeve shirts and pants. I like Columbia and the like for shirts and pants. Light, easy to wash, quick to dry.

- As for equipment yes bringing lots of gear will probably get you stopped at customs/border. Generally Ive found they are more interested to know if you are a reporter. Not so much your profession. Many of these countries are paranoid about uncontrolled reporters. Be sure you are clear what you are there for. If you are going for a client get them to send you a letter stating your purpose.

- Get things translated in to Amharic if needed. Not sure if that available where you are but it should be available somehow. Translate your passport if needed. Letter of invitation etc.


Ask if you have any more questions. Good luck!
Mar 26 13 08:42 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
NothingIsRealButTheGirl
Posts: 32,927
Los Angeles, California, US


If you read or watch the videos of Joey L you'll see his travels in Ethiopia

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YoiJS7_PlBM

http://www.joeyl.com/2009/02/joey-l-in- … valley-12/

That will give you some idea of what to expect.
Mar 26 13 09:21 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PicBack
Posts: 621
New York, New York, US


Thank you everyone for your wise words.

I have traveled quite widely (from Antartica to the Sahara, Albania to Brooklyn) so most of the general things you do are covered. Having said that there are always useful tips from those in the field.

I am trying to work out what to take strobe wise. Profoto are far too big but am thinking about the Quantum Ranger kit.

Also, what International Insurance do you all like?
Mar 27 13 05:00 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
MMDesign
Posts: 18,647
Louisville, Kentucky, US


Joey Lawrence (Joey L), has a pretty good blog about traveling there (to the region at least), somewhere on his blog.

http://www.joeyl.com/blog/
Mar 27 13 05:17 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
Seniorbrucio
Posts: 104
Dubai, Dubai, United Arab Emirates


PicBack wrote:
Thank you everyone for your wise words.

I have traveled quite widely (from Antartica to the Sahara, Albania to Brooklyn) so most of the general things you do are covered. Having said that there are always useful tips from those in the field.

I am trying to work out what to take strobe wise. Profoto are far too big but am thinking about the Quantum Ranger kit.

Also, what International Insurance do you all like?

Im covered through work with Cigna and work also covers me through another thingamajiggy for personal travel.

Im not up to speed on insurance but what I do know is it pays to check the medical providers in your destination to see what insurance is the least hassel.

Also something like International SOS might be of use.

Mar 27 13 08:44 pm  Link  Quote 
Photographer
PicBack
Posts: 621
New York, New York, US


Seniorbrucio wrote:

Im covered through work with Cigna and work also covers me through another thingamajiggy for personal travel.

Im not up to speed on insurance but what I do know is it pays to check the medical providers in your destination to see what insurance is the least hassel.

Also something like International SOS might be of use.

I will go and check them both out.

I have a policy with Columbus but am guessing has a couple of loopholes for what I really need to be covered for.

Mar 30 13 08:05 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
JM Fotography
Posts: 61
Laurinburg, North Carolina, US


Most the big points have been hit alright, i haven't been to Ethiopia since '04, before i was in to photography, so I am super jealous of your trip, i would love to go back!

Common sense goes a long way, keep your eyes open.
Mar 30 13 11:47 am  Link  Quote 
Photographer
JM Fotography
Posts: 61
Laurinburg, North Carolina, US


duplicate
Mar 30 13 11:47 am  Link  Quote 
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