Beni Zeid, Aleppo. The insecurity of daily life as the indiscriminate bombing and shelling continues makes even buying bread a lottery. The bakery took three direct hits, and even though the neighborhood was under continuous bombing, people had no choice but to wait in line. Lucas Pernin

What Journalists Carry on the Front Lines: Lucas Pernin, Syria

Syria Travel Ambassadors
by Cengiz Yar Jr. Jan 22, 2014
Matador is teaming up with the FFR1 to show you what conflict and foreign freelancers carry with them on assignments.

Pernin portrait

I’M A freelance photographer and writer based in Sweden. I primarily work in the Middle East and most recently focused on the conflict in Syria. I work mainly for Scandinavian magazines and weeklies, but occasionally I write for publications in Europe and South Asia.

I received an MA with distinction at Westminster University where I studied photojournalism. I also earned a BA in Human Geography from Lund University. My professional focus is on long-form storytelling, where I develop detailed, episodic narratives of human interest stories in conflict or troubled areas. My work has been on exhibit at the Foto8 Summershow and Nepal Art Centre.

This was my bag for working in Syria. Less is more. I take that saying wherever I go. I travel light, and over the years realized that for the photography I’m interested in making, there’s no need for more than what I have. My legs are my zoom, and keeping a light pack makes it easier to move around when needed. Of course the equipment might get broken or stolen and I don’t have an extra body on the inside, so I keep an extra on the border.

My one tip would be that baby wipes are the best thing for this type of work, perfect for cleaning when there is no water. Whatever equipment you have is great, but without research beforehand and proper preparation, it won’t mean much.

View more of Pernin’s work on his site.

A photo of Pernin's bag

In the bag
  • Canon 5D Mark II
  • Canon 50mm 1.4
  • Canon 28mm 1.8
  • 2 extra batteries for the 5D plus charger
  • Memory cards (lots of them)
  • MacBook Pro 15″
  • Laptop case (waterproof)
  • Portable hard drive USB drive (no external electricity needed)
  • Notebooks (Moleskin, several of them, but not the bulky ones, the ones that fit in the back pocket)
  • Pens, VBall (Well guess I got issues since I only like using one kind)
  • Audio recorder (USB transfer)
  • Card reader
  • Cleaning equipment for the camera (blower, swipe, etc)
  • Cheap Nokia phone where the batteries last forever
  • Elastic electrical tape
  • Several USBs
  • The bag is a Fjällräven 30L with two great side pockets for easy access. Reinforced bottom so that it doesn’t soak up the humidity. Plus I take the padding from another camera case and put it in the bottom.
Not in photo
  • Food – Power bars, dried food packages
  • Cigarettes, lighters (for some reason lighters keep disappearing)
  • Med kit – plus body function pills
  • Flashlight plus headlight
  • Baby wipes – great for hygiene
  • And of course all the electrical cables needed to plug in the equipment

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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