Matador is teaming up with the FFR1 to show you what conflict and foreign freelancers carry with them on assignments.

Amanda Mustard is a self-taught freelance photojournalist based in Cairo. Born and raised on a Pennsylvania Christmas tree farm, she has worked in MENA, China, and across Southeast Asia focusing on humanitarian and social stories.

Photojournalist wearing scarf and helmet

Photo by Keith Lane

In 2013, Mustard completed the fourth class of RISC (Reporters Instructing in Saving Colleagues) Training and was accepted into the Eddie Adams Workshop XXVI. She is represented by Redux Pictures, Wonderful Machine, and ZUMA Press.

This is what she carries:

  1. Scarf, wrapped loosely. Sexual perpetrators have been known to drag and choke women with their scarves, but I keep one on hand if teargas is involved.
  2. Beanie to stuff hair into. It’s harder for stalkers to trail or identify you in a crowd if you wear a hat, rather than leave your long lady hair in the open.
  3. Gas mask
  4. RISC medical pack
  5. Kata W-92 Waistpack camera bag, worn sling-style for easy access, and keeps my stuff close to my body when running and to avoid theft.
  6. Plate-less flak jacket. I wear this under a baggy shirt for sexual harassment.
  7. Shooting safety glasses, to protect eyes from birdshot
  8. Strong leather belt, buckled inside-out to help deter in the case of sexual assault
  9. Tight sports bra to flatten out the ladies. The more boyish you look, the better. Some women opt for a one-piece bathing suit.
  10. Fuji X100. I shoot with this when I don’t want to stick out as much, usually at night.
  11. Canon 70-200mm f/4 lens (half the weight of the 2.8. I’m all about packing and shooting light.)
  12. GoPro 2, kept attached in my DSLR hotshoe
  13. Canon D Mark II + 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
  14. Extra batteries

Contents of bag

15. Top row, L-R

  • Notebook
  • iPhone with Twelve South BookBook phone case, excellent for taking incognito shots. Highly recommended for any street-shooting iPhoneographer!
  • Contact solution
  • Cooling powder (a gift from heaven on those 110F days)
  • Chapstick
  • Profoto pocket flashlight

15. Bottom row, L-R

  • Pen
  • Antinal pills. Your colon can be your worst enemy. We all know that you just never know.
  • Small mace
  • Fake-cell-phone-stun-gun
  • Crappy Nokia mobile. I keep one of these on me in case I’m robbed, in which case I would give this up and hopefully save the iPhone.
  • Lighter and cigarettes. Helps to make friends fast.

Not shown

  • Sunscreen. While waiting outside of Hosni Mubarak’s 2012 trial, I forgot this and ended up with second-degree burns on my face. It wasn’t cute.
  • Tissues. Especially in countries where toilet paper isn’t really a thing.
  • Water
  • Loose-fitting mens’ clothes and tops that aren’t button-down.
  • Press credentials. And copies of them.

GoPro footage of the protests and clashes that stirred up outside of the US Embassy after an anti-Islamic film went viral. These clips are from three of these days, closing with the morning of 15 September, when police clamped down on the uprising with force, destroying stalls and tents in Tahrir Square and arresting scores of protesters. (Equipment: GoPro 2 mounted on a Canon DMarkII DSLR, 24-70mm 2.8 lens)

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.