What’s in your backpack?

I head out every morning with a notebook, a pen, and my phone.  It’s all I’ve needed for most of my interviews on this reporting trip in Rwanda. The light gear has helped me slip in and out of spaces and keeps people relaxed and comfortable when speaking to me.

During these interviews, I try to note down as much detail of my surroundings as possible; the look on the interviewee’s face—when they smile, when they look away, and when they stare right at me—what the sun feels like; where we’re sitting; what the other people around us are doing; what the interviewee is doing with their hands; their body language; and, of course, the stories they choose to share.

My friend and IWMF fellow Jacobia Dahm has a lot more baggage in her gear. Every morning she heads out with her camera, a tripod, several lenses, a notepad, and battery packs, to name a few. She’s lugged this gear around; taking it to mines, classrooms, and churches. Though I often tease her about the weight of her gear, Jacobia is able to instantly capture a moment that I’d struggle to find the right words for. With her gear, she quietly paints a scene that would take me three pages of notes to do.