You may have heard that we have had bad flooding in parts of Iowa this Spring. I am very fortunate, I only had a few puddles in my basement. Some neighbors have reported having several feet of water in their homes.

I am a bit of a photojournalist at heart-so I had to get out and about and document what was going on. I have photographed car accidents, fires, and now flooding. Here I will share some tips on photojournalist type shoots in crisis situations.

1) Safety first. Not just yours, but everyone else's too. This means be alert to what is going on around you. Know where the police are and where they might want to go next. Stay out of the way of first responders-their jobs are more important than ours. They may be trying to save a life and I don't want to cause them any delay. Watch out for the big trucks and heavy equipment. Stay out of their way and out of their blind spots! All the great images in the world will not save you if you are under the wheels of a vehicle that weighs a few tons or more.

2) Be inconspicuous. That's the best way to avoid getting shooed off. This may mean leaving your best DSLR in the car with your tripods and walking to the scene with a P&S. That's OK, you will be able to get around and maneuver better to get the best camera position. Lugging a load of gear into a flood zone is not a lot of fun-and can be hazardous for your equipment.

3) Dress for conditions-especially wear good sturdy shoes or boots as appropriate and protective clothes as needed. Layer up in case the temperature changes and have a rain jacket or poncho handy. Even a garbage bag will do in a pinch :-)

4) Be friendly. If the chance comes up, visit a bit with other bystanders. You will meet some great people and you may learn more about what is happening and get some great ideas for additional images.

5) Take lots of large pictures. You won't be able to control much but composition and the angle of light, so just keep shooting and worry about sorting out the good shots when you get home.

6) Take a variety of pictures. For example, I tend to put people in context so that the image shows how they are reacting to the environment around them. Other people have a natural tendency to zero in on facial expressions. Try to get both the close up emotional impact and the shots that tell the story behind the emotion, including all the context. It doesn't really take any longer, it's just about forcing yourself to go beyond your usual habits.

7) Be respectful. Understand that you are among people in crisis and treat them kindly, just because it is the right thing to do. Lend a hand and help them out if you get a chance.

Here is an image of flood preparations in Iowa City. I hope to have a couple more flood images online soon.

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Photo credits: Cjh Photography Llc.

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Hello, would you mind please adding my photos from Cairo to your collection (Poverty In Cairo, Egypt) as i have many photos from Cairo Egypt with similar titles and many photos with same topic related to Cairo Egypt, thank u very much in advance


Good blog,thanks!It's bad that you have a flood, but nothing you can do about it...
Also you could try to make assignment of may with this cool photo!))))


Thank you Babar


Incidentally Cynthia, there is a good article in Digital Preview about doing photography for free. Check it out. I will try to set up a hot link. If it doesn't work, just type it in the long way.

Well, I guess you'll have to type it in the long way!


Nice tips,Thanks for sharing.


Good point! I have not caught anything like this, but I did capture a spoiler shot of a magic trick and decided not to share.


Recently our local paper ran a photo of two daughters talking to a funeral home director at the scene of an accident. Basically the moment they were being told that their mother had just died. Readers were upset to say the least. So even if you capture certain moments you can as a decent human being decide to edit them out.


Hellen 8, sorry for all your troubles. Floods are no fun! Babar-this was a sunset shot. Glad for your nice weather. We have had some sun lately, but the water is still high and now it is raining again.


Thanks for your tips. Just a moment ago I returned home from the Old Town Prague with my cameras. Surely you have heard that there are major floods in the Czech Republic. I live in Prague and now here we experience literally hell. After several daily rains raised the water level of rivers and destroying everything in its path.
... today finally stopped raining ...
Have a nice day


Cynthia, check the white balance of your flood shot. On my computer it looks very red/magenta. Unless it was at sunset or sunrise. No floods here, just too much good weather!

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