- Karel Prinsloo, Arete’s photographer based in Johannesburg
I have been to South Sudan many times over the years — from the time it was still part of Sudan. The country is ravaged by civil war, and last February famine was declared. But my work with Arete has shown me how humanitarian and aid agencies are helping people overcome these hardships.
One such agency is UNICEF. Last month, I travelled to Juba, the capital, to photograph UNICEF’s new Executive Director Henrietta H. Fore as she went on her first field visit to South Sudan. This trip wasn’t just about her visit; we also witnessed lots of other stories on the ground.
We visited health facilities in Juba and children’s paediatric centres; we photographed airdrops delivering vital basic supplies to displaced people living in camps and UNICEF staff providing essentials such as soap or mosquito nets.
Ms. Fore met and talked to many people — all of whom have been affected by both the war and ongoing drought. She was clearly moved by what she heard. Our schedule was packed, and we were working long days in hot and difficult conditions, but I was really impressed by the way she handled the work and I aimed to capture her compassion and composure in the photographs I took.
For me what makes a powerful humanitarian photo story is being able to show the real human experiences one encounters. For example, this photograph of Ms. Fore interacting with a woman who has just who has just received buckets, soap and mosquito nets at the camp — this photo helps tell the story of one of the people affected by the famine. You get to see what is happening on the ground.
These types of photo shoots are always tough. It is hot and dusty and one has to managed very difficult lighting conditions. The sun is incredibly bright — making it hard to show detail in the photographs. Because of security constraints it is often hard to take images in softer evening or early morning light.
To overcome these challenges I have learnt that the main thing to remember is to stay focused on the human element of the story and ensure that one takes different types of images in as many different angles as possible.
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