Working as a documentary photographer overseas is definitely an amazing job. I love sharing all of these photos with you, and I love that I get to snapchat and instagram all of my adventures as I go along - and I even half enjoy the quest for a good wifi connection to upload everything. But there are a few things about my work that I don't share very often...
Going to places where people rarely get to travel is something I will never get tired of - but there's a reason people don't go there. And there's a reason not many people chose this line of work. I've heard time and time again from the freelancers I have worked along side that so many people want to get into this line of photography or filming, but once they actually try it, they have a change of heart. That's because it's not easy - physically, but also mentally.
Each time I come back from one of my trips it takes me a while to digest what I've done. Climbing down a mine shaft when your mind is saying "uuuuh, are you sure about this?", forces you to shove aside your fear. But that's only temporary, and it always comes back, sometimes when you are at the bottom of that mine. And there's no time to panic because "you have to get to work, and these miners work in these conditions all year so you can manage it for a few days..."
On this trip I decided to snapchat a story that I have never shared before. I wanted to share the reality of why I travel overseas, because all my work is need based, but I don't often share that need. I talked a bit about child labour in India, and I have shared a few malnourished animals, but I don't often share the hard stuff - the reason that I am there.
I wanted to tell you the story of an donkey that we found that was missing part of his leg. Due to the state of his wound he had probably been like that for weeks, and he was standing beside an old water point which he had probably remembered and come back to hoping to find his owner. Animals that are too wounded to work are often abandoned. As awful as this scene was, it is by far not the worst I have come across - for animals or for people.
In these situations I am usually powerless to do much, but I do what I can and hope that however they end up, they find some peace. This time we were traveling with a vet team, so there was a solution and some hope for this little donkey, so I have included a photo of this scene in this post, at the very bottom but I have cropped out the leg wound.
I did delete it off my snapchat however, because I thought it's not fair to show something so awful when I'm pretty sure that's not what keeps you all coming back to my blog, or my instagram or my snapchat. It felt like a bit of a sucker punch, and that didn't seem fair. I'm sure you're all aware of animal suffering in the world and you don't need me shoving it in your face.
But I did want to mention it because, as much as I enjoy sharing my work travels here and often talking about them as adventures, you know how much I always like to be honest about how things really are. It is an adventure, but it's a job too.
It can be scary and traumatic, it is always exhausting, frustrating, heartbreaking... it's difficult in many ways. But each time I go I feel stronger, and meeting those people and telling their stories is what keeps me going back. I hear so often "you are so lucky" - and for sure luck plays a part, the travel is great, the adventure is wonderful, but the chance to tell a story that needs a hand coming to light? With every photo that I take, that becomes more important to me.