Empowering the Freelance Economy

The brave international freelancers staying in Ukraine: who are they?

Freelance Canadian videographer Joshua Schnell is among those international freelancers staying in Ukraine to cover the conflict.
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SPECIAL REPORT

International freelancers are bravely covering the escalating conflict in Ukraine. Some are even working free of charge.

If you don’t know who Alex Lourie is, you may know his work. Alex is the American freelance photojournalist that captured which is already a historic image of Helena, a blood-stained Ukrainian teacher, aged 53, looking straight into Lourie’s lens. Helena’s face is cut from a falling shard of a mirror after her apartment complex in Chuihiv, near Kharkiv, was impacted by an explosion launched by Russian troops.

Alex has been documenting the Russian invasion with his impactful photos. In a BBC televised interview, he told viewers that just hours before the invasion, people were going about their lives, meeting friends, going out on dates… then in a flash, the country was placed under martial law and preparing for the unknown.

Millions have fled Kyiv and hundreds of thousands have made unplanned escapes from their homeland to nearby countries including Poland, Moldova, Romania, Slovakia and Hungary. But Ukraine, despite being the largest in Eastern Europe, is surrounded by Russian troops, entering at multiple points, bombing key infrastructure with nearby civilian apartment blocks getting hit in the crossfire of airstrikes.

Alex, whose base is in Washington, D.C., has travelled the globe on assignment in dangerous situations from war-torn countries, such as Syria, to societal unrest on the streets of the US. Photojournalists, like Alex, make sacrifices, financial and social if they want to make a name for themselves, especially in the early days of their career.

Some freelancers predicted the invasion

Other foreign freelance journalists and videographers in Ukraine, such as Candian Joshua Schnell, are bravely documenting events on the ground – free of charge. Schnell told a Global News report that he does not know how long he will stay in the country anticipating it could be weeks if not months.

Just days before the Russian invasion, Schnell hit the streets of Kyiv to interview locals and international freelance journalists to gauge their predictions of the escalating situation. Some were spot on about the current situation.

Schnell asked one freelance Australian journalist what he was saying to his family back home. The journalist said that he was telling his family “not to panic”, that they already knew that this is his job and risk comes with the territory.

Just days after Schnell’s interviews, the camera and questions were focused on him by the Canadian press. Canada is home to close to 1.3 million Ukrainians, the largest population outside of Ukraine and Russia.

Watch Schnell’s interview and photo accounts below via the Twitter feed.

Joshua Schnell, a Canadian freelance videographer in Kyiv informs Ukrainians back home of the escalating conflict

Why freelancers are vital in times of political conflict

Without independent verification of live events, fake news could escalate military action from all sides. Freelancers can be that source of independent news.

👉 The Freelance Informer previously reported, that freelance IT specialists may be called on by governments and companies to support national interests and to ensure cybersecurity is stronger than ever in financial institutions and key infrastructure and services, such as the power grid, transport, communications, ports and healthcare.

Freelance journalists, videographers and media/image verification experts will also be required to step up to keep news real. Russia had partially restricted Facebook access after social media giant Meta refused to stop labelling and fact-checking state-controlled media organisations.

According to a report: Russian authorities ordered Facebook’s parent company Meta to allow RIA Novosti news agency, Zvezda TV channel and Lenta.ru and Gazeta.ru news websites to publish on Facebook unrestricted, Meta’s VP Global Affairs and former Deputy Prime Minister Sir Nick Clegg in a statement.


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What does it take to become a successful photojournalist?

There is always the fear that you won’t capture what a client wants or will not be in the right place at the right time. That means having patience.

Photojournalists not only must chase a story but capture it often when it’s on the move. These are far from staged shots. They are moments captured to tell a bigger story.

A good photographer will usually have an innate sense of human character, a good manipulation of natural light and how a single shot can tell a story. That means photojournalists must be skilful with a camera; be well-read about current events and follow the action as and when – and where – it happens. This is not exactly welcoming behaviour if you are in the early stages of a new romance or have a young family and must leave at a moment’s notice, not knowing when you will return.

According to sources, including MasterClass, an online teaching platform by famous experts in their chosen field, there are essential qualities of a successful photojournalist including being prepared to put in hours for just one shot. Other successful qualities, the online education site said, were:

  • Deep understanding of photography or photography’s biggest teacher: the study of ambient light. While many photographers can take their time out in the field to perfect a specific shot—changing the angle or adjusting the aperture, for example—professional photojournalists often find themselves capturing photos in the midst of a breaking news story. To do this, a photojournalist needs to have an acute knowledge of the necessary technical skills, including how your camera works and how to compose a shot.
  • Knowledge of current events. Photojournalists aren’t just professional photographers—they’re reporters, too. A great photojournalist knows what’s happening in the world, so they can follow specific events and be in the right place at the right time for great photos.
  • Determination. Photojournalism isn’t an easy job—in fact, you’ll often find yourself exposed to inclement weather, turned away from venues, or in dangerous situations. In order to be a great photojournalist, you’ll need to push past these barriers and do a lot of hard work to capture the best shots you can.

Check out a sample lesson: Annie Leibovitz Teaches Photography | MasterClass

Check out Alex Lourie’s photos on Instagram on @alexlourie.photo

For Joshua’s daily stories:

  • Instagram: @theadventurersofjaytree
  • TikTok: @jaytreeofficial
  • Facebook: The Adventures of Jay Tree

Tech firms extend support to freelancers in Ukraine – Freelance Informer

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