NGOs Supporting Documentary Photography

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by Edgar Allen Beam


If you aspire see your documentary photography project reach people around the world, consider hooking up with one of the non-governmental organizations (NGOs) who use or sponsor documentary projects. As photojournalist Zalmai explains in our article on his recent work in Afghanistan (September '04 PDN), his book and traveling exhibition were produced with the help of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, which secured a $400,000 transportation grant from FedEx.
�I like working with NGOs very much,� says Zalmai. �They don�t have money, but they let you do what you want. When you�re working with NGOs, most of the time they understand the subject and they let you do what you want to do.�
Zalmai's grant was unusual; most NGOs support photographers by exchanging access for documentation. In some cases, an NGO actually commissions work from photojournalists to ensure there is coverage of a problem the mainstream media has ignored. The NGOs' use of the photos vary (see "How Amnesty International Works With Photographers," below). At a time when few magazines are interested in international news or social ills, NGOs are often the only outlet supporting serious documentary work.
Wayne Minter, audiovisual resource coordinator for Amnesty International in London, which is currently producing two projects with photojournalists, recommends that photographers interested in working with AI submit written proposals and thumbnails of recent work.

Finding NGOs: Contacts
Two very useful web sites for finding NGO links are www.ngo.org, which supplies links to UN-affiliated NGOs, and http://docs.lib.duke.edu/igo/guides/ngo/, a Duke University web site that serves as a research guide to NGOs organized by issue and geographic region.

The following are other NGOs that have supported documentary projects in recent years:

Amnesty International
Peter Beneson House
1 Easton Street
London WC1 XODW
44 207 413 5585
www.amnesty.org

CARE USA
151 Ellis St. NE
Atlanta, Georgia 30303-2440
404-681-2552
www.careusa.org

Doctors Without Borders/M�decins Sans Fronti�res
333 7th Avenue, 2nd Floor
New York, New York 10001-5004
212-679-6800
www.doctorswithourborders.org

Human Rights Watch
350 5th Avenue, 34th Floor
New York, New York 10118-3299
212-290-4700
www.hrw.org

International Rescue Committee
122 East 42nd St.
New York, New York 10168
212-551-3000
www.theirc.org

United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees
Case Postale 2500
CH-1211 Geneva 2 Depot
Switzerland
41 22 739 8111
www.unhcr.ch

World Health Organization
Avenue Appia 20
1211 Geneva 27
Switzerland
41 22 791 2222
www.who.int

How Amnesty International Works with Professional Photographers
Is a collaboration with an NGO right for you? The following is a copy of Amnesty International's terms and usage agreement.

Amnesty International (hereafter AI ) is a worldwide campaigning organisation working to prevent human rights violations, and to promote human rights.
We are committed to using effective images wherever possible to achieve our aims and publicise our work. We are working to extend our use of visual images and develop more creative approaches to image work.

General Principles on use of photographs in materials
We strive to uphold certain standards in our use of pictures of individuals, groups and practices in AI documents, reports, websites, campaign and action materials. These can be summarised as follows:

1.1 The overall balance of photographic content (in any AI report, document, website, etc,) should portray human dignity and positive action in the face of human rights violations.
1.2 The reality of the effects of human rights violations should be depicted where it is appropriate (eg; to the aims of the particular Campaign / Action) and does not infringe the rights or dignity of the subjects. There should be no photos included purely to shock or disturb.
1.3 The security and rights of individuals portrayed in photographs will be a major consideration.
1.4 Every effort will be made to ensure that photographs of individuals are not published without their knowledge and consent.
1.5 Every effort will be made to ensure that individuals in photographs are identified, or not, according to their expressed wishes.

Copyright / Conditions of Use
To be most effective in its work for human rights AI needs to be able to use and distribute pictures as widely as possible.
To make the fullest use of our worldwide campaigning sections and membership we will normally seek the following conditions of use:
_ Unrestricted use by any AI International Section or Structure worldwide
_ In any current, or future, formats or media
_ With no time limit (in perpetuity)
_ Can be distributed to appropriate media in connection with Human Rights work.

In return photographers will get worldwide exposure for their work in AI materials, and will always be credited as agreed. AI will undertake to refer all enquiries falling outside of the agreed AI use of the pictures (eg: from media or external sources ) directly to the photographer / agency.

Working with Photographers
�Partnership�

This is the most common way we work with professional photographers.

We work with a small, but steadily growing, group of professional photographers who understand our principles and, usage requirements, methods (and budgets!).
In particular these tend to be photographers who specialise in social documentary photography in some way (by theme, region, country,etc)

It is our policy to build working relationships with such local professionals worldwide.

The photographer will generally inform us of proposed trips and projects and, after consulting the appropriate research team, we would we brief them on possible subjects for pictures.
On their return we organise meetings with the IS research team to review any relevant pictures. If there are pictures we wish to use the Audiovisual Resources team negotiates use, based on the broadest possible use by of the pictures and a fair payment to the photographer for use in materials.

Commissioning
Generally there are very few AI projects where we directly commission photographers. Examples are specific missions where we require local knowledge, contacts or access, or a where there is a photographer with a proven ability in a specific area of interest to AI.
In such circumstances we would adopt the following selection criteria:

_ Acceptance of AI�s General Principles and conditions of use (above) by contract
_ Specific regional / local knowledge
_ Specific technical skills
_ Ability to work with AI mission personnel in the field

Amnesty will generally seek to own copyright on commissioned photographs.
Specific contracts will be drawn up for all commissioned photographs.

Credits and non-AI use
AI will always credit the photographer as agreed, whenever the photograph is used in any AI materials worldwide.
AI will undertake to refer all enquiries falling outside of the agreed AI use of the pictures (eg: from media or external sources ) directly to the photographer / agency.

Payment
COMMISSIONS
AI will pay photographers at least the NUJ recommended rates for the types of usage we require.
Payment for commissioned photographs will be agreed by signed contract before the commission proceeds.
Contracts will cover as a minimum ; copyright, conditions of use, credits, any payments for materials, processing, expenses, delivery, transport, accommodation, access.

�PARTNERSHIPS�
AI will negotiate and pay for licences to use individual pictures or collections of pictures.

Contacting Amnesty
If you understand and accept AI General Principles and conditions of use (see above) and wish to discuss working with AI please
_ Send contact and work details to Audiovisual Resources Team at address below, possibly with examples of work as �thumbnails�, on CD or website. Any images sent, should be accompanied by brief descriptions of content (what, when, where, etc). (Please no hard copy photos or portfolios).

Audiovisual ResourcesTeam
Information Resources Program
International Secretariat
Amnesty International
1 Easton Street
London WC1 XODW
UK

Email: audiovis@amnesty.org
Tel: 0171 413 5588

 

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© RENE BURRI/MAGNUM PHOTOS
Obituary: Rene Burri, Magnum Photographer, 81

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