Armed UN forces patrolling the streets in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo on February 18th, 2014.

What Journalists Carry on the Front Lines: Daniel Van Moll, DRC

The Democratic Republic of the Congo Travel Ambassadors
by Cengiz Yar Jr. Jun 18, 2014
Matador is teaming up with the FFR1 to show you what conflict and foreign freelancers carry with them on assignments.

Daniel van Moll

Award-winning photojournalist Daniel van Moll was born in 1978 in Duesseldorf, Germany. He started photographing at the age of 12 when he got his hands on his first camera, a Canon EOS-1, and never really stopped.

In the early stages of his career, he worked as a host and producer for NBC Universal, and he’s lived in San Francisco, Berlin, and Duesseldorf. He’s currently based in Munich, Germany.

He’s spent a significant amount of time working with NGOs on six continents, documenting humanitarian projects and the work of charity organizations.

Daniel has worked in 12 different African countries, all over the United States, and in most of the Middle East countries. He covered the street riots in Turkey in June/July 2013, the turmoil in Egypt in August 2013, and the unrest in Ukraine in early 2014. He’s been published in magazines and books in Germany, Canada, the United States, and the United Kingdom, with exhibitions in Germany, Italy, England, Switzerland, and Iraq.

In 2012, Daniel made humanitarian and conflict photography the core theme of his work. In 2013 he joined the Frontline Freelance Register (FFR). His most recent assignments have brought him to the Democratic Republic of Congo, covering the refugee situation along the eastern border.

Follow Dan via his website, Twitter @danvanmoll, Facebook, or Instagram.

Child refugees

Among the hundred thousands of refugees in Eastern Democratic Republic of Congo are countless children. Many have lost parents or family in the ongoing conflict.

Here’s what he carries while covering conflicts all around the globe.

Field eqipment

  • 1. Ear plugs — handy against flash-bangs and stun grenades
  • 2. Small backup flash (Canon 320EX Speedlite)
  • 3. Wide-angle lens (Canon 16-35 LII F/2.8) — my favorite lens
  • 4. Standard zoom (Canon 24-70 L F/2.8)
  • 5. Canon 1Ds Mark III body
  • 6. Compass — never trust your iPhone’s compass
  • 7. MOLLE straps — perfect for attaching gear to your armor
  • 8. Canon OC-E3 cord — for off-shoe flash use
  • 9. Canon USM 50mm F/1.4 — for low-light situations
  • 10. Tele lens Canon 70-200 L F/2.8 IS
  • 11. Canon 1Ds Mark II body
  • 13. Lots of CF and SD memory cards — lots
  • 14. Tape (black & blue) — it’s your friend!
  • 15. External compact battery pack — for the flash
  • 16. Canon 580 EX II flash — even though I hate flash photography
  • 17. Canon 5D Mark II body
  • 18. Headlight — for packing up at night and staggering around the hotel room during blackouts
  • 19. Blood-type patch — attached to jacket/shoes
  • 20. International IFJ press ID
  • 21. Random business cards from NGOs/drivers/fixers
  • 22. Notebooks, pen, and passport copies
  • 23. iPhone — with digital passport copies on
  • 24. Lens pen — for quick cleaning. I really love this one!
  • 25. Giotto Airbomb bellows — to blow away dust
  • 26. Zoom H1 audio recorder — for interviews and atmosphere
  • 27. Thin gloves — you never know when it’s getting dirty!
  • 28. Lots of batteries and cleaning cloths/leather
  • 29. Some backup batteries — that I never need
  • 30. Protective filters (UV)

Protective gear

  • 31. Body armor (Condor Quick Release Plate Carrier with velcro fields for PRESS patches on the front and back, filled with ballistic front- and back-plates — NIJ class IV) — I usually removed the plates unless live ammunition is used
  • 32. Ballistic helmet (class NIJ IIIA)
  • 33. Newswear chestvest (weather sealed) — for carrying lenses, batteries, flash, and backup body. Best investment ever made!
  • 34. First aid kit — the most important piece of gear. Make sure to refresh courses every year!
  • 35. Lucky charm — okay, it’s just an old chestnut, but it seems to work…
  • 36. Lip balm
  • 37. Sunglasses
  • 38. Ear plugs — for long and lonely cab rides
  • 39. Sunsniper camera strap (double harness)

Hotel room stuff

  • 40. Lowepro Stealth Reporter 650AW — with some extra bags attached to it. Weighs around 25kg with all gear packed but fits perfectly in overhead compartments. I use this to haul my equipment to the next hotel room. In the field I use the Newswear chestbelt (see #33) and Sunsniper harness (see #39)
  • 41. Lots of battery chargers — I wish Canon would stick to one system for its pro series bodies
  • 42. Even more batteries (see #41)
  • 43. Canon 1Ds Mark II — backup body I leave at the hotel room
  • 44. Power strip — can be a lifesaver!
  • 45. LaCie Rugged hard drives (master and backup, plus an extra backup at home) — I usually try to store them separately
  • 46. Mac Book Pro Retina — the workhorse
  • 47. iPad for casual reading while on the plane/layovers
  • 48. International power adaptor
  • 49. Card reader — I usually carry at least three
  • 50. Cables — so many cables

1The Frontline Freelance Register (FFR) is a representative body for freelancers, created and run by freelancers. It is an independent, ring-fenced entity which sits within the Frontline Club Charitable Trust with membership open to all freelance journalists working in conflict or foreign reporting. The FFR’s core objective is to support the physical and mental well-being of freelance journalists. In a world where staff jobs and fully paid foreign assignments are increasingly scarce, foreign and war reporting is dominated by freelancers, many of whom are deeply committed professionals doing outstanding work. At the same time, many of these freelancers lack the institutional support and the financial means to adequately manage the challenges of operating in dangerous environments in the long term. They also lack organised representation, often leaving them at the mercy of powerful media groups. FFR aims to help freelancers by providing them with a forum, a representative body, and a critical mass to face some of these challenges.

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