Ask a Boreal Member: July 2016


From Daniella Zalcman: What’s the one piece of non-photographic gear that you always bring on the road? 

Brett Gundlock: My good luck charm: Guadalupe necklace given to me by Sr. Click. It comes with me when I am nervous about the area. It has been blessed by shamans a few times; in the last three years it has seen some very interesting scenes of rural Mexico.

Mauricio Palos: I carry a lucky amulet that a sorceress gave me at my grandmas town in La Huasteca. It’s supposed to be used while being on risky areas, borders, narco areas etc. I always lost it but it always comes back to me. I also have the same Sr Click escapulario with the virgin of Guadalupe but wrapped on a wild pork tooth that my compadres the hunters gave me. And good speakers for music.

Laurence Butet-Roch: Whenever I go on the road, I make sure to have a good novel that relates in some way to the subject I’ll be covering or to the mood I’m hoping to conjure. I find it’s another way to immerse myself. For example, I’m in Aamjiwnaang First Nation at the moment, and I took with me “Love Medicine” by Louise Erdrich, who’s an Ojibwe writer. She’s of the same Indigenous group as the people of Aamjiwnaang, though she was born on the other side of the border, in Minnesota. I first stumbled upon her work three years ago, through her collection of writings “Books and Islands in Ojibwe Country” and was recently reminded of her when I saw she had a new book out “LaRose” (which is also on my ‘to read’ list). A few days before coming to Aamjiwnaang, I was touring garage sales, when I found “Love Medicine” in one of the piles. It felt like it was meant to be. Especially when I was gifted wild ginger, a plant nicknamed the ‘heart plant’ because of the shape of its leaves and because it heals the heart, upon my arrival to the community. I see meaning in such coincidences.

Ian Willms: Ear plugs and a sleep mask often come in handy. 

A good 45L backpack. It’s just barely small enough to carry on any flight. Even those hard-ass econo flights in Europe. Not having checked luggage has saved me problems many times when my flight is cancelled or I show up to the airport hopelessly late (which actually happened earlier today). I also love watching everyone struggle with their giant roller bags to get over a curb or up some stairs while I’m just breezing by like some prick who spends way too much time at MEC (Canada’s REI), which is true.

Matt Lutton: I can’t say just one thing, because I’ve got two items that have been with me for years and are always with me. In the bottom of my CF/SD card wallet I’ve got a wad of gaffers tape rolled up on itself. When you’ve got to stick something down (or like on a recent assignment, reattach a broken windshield wiper in a Bulgarian rainstorm) you just have to have it. I’ve also got a credit card-sized bottle opener in my wallet. I keep thinking that airport security will take it from me, as it’s a hunk of modestly sharp metal, but I’ve had it with me every day since 2006. It has saved many parched journalists and wowed old men in villages who thought they would have to break their beer bottles open on rocks.

Aaron Vincent Elkaim: Cipro for those unfortunate bouts of stomach illness. A pendulum to help guide me when I need to make hard to determine choices. Silica gel for keeping film from moulding in the jungle. Some printed pics from past work to show people what I do. Hammock. Oregano oil (it’s amazing at combating colds and sore throats or general sickness.) Energy bars that I usually end up not eating but sometimes are a life saver. Also allergy pills. Swiss Army knife. A few lighters. Headlight and extra batteries.

Jonathan Taggart: +1 for Aaron’s energy bars. Nothing worse than hitting the wall in the middle of a community event or a bush trip and becoming the grumpy guy who can’t focus and wants to snap at everybody.

Johan Hallberg-Campbell: Ear plugs; damaged my ears before from shooting in noisy environments, so now bring ear plugs just incase. Allergy pills; have slept in some weird dusty and dirty places. Barns, fishing huts on the floor. Pills clear my pipes in the morning. A knife and a flashlight for cutting and seeing.

For real, cod liver oil. Serious.

Annie Flanagan: Bear spray. For large animals and unfortunate humans.

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