Conflict Photog Leans on Crowdfunding to Replace Stolen DSLR Gear


While on assignment in the Middle East, war photographer Tracey Shelton had her gear stolen during an attempted kidnapping back in August 2011. As a freelance photojournalist, she didn’t have a newspaper’s funding to lean back on, and found herself out of several thousand dollars worth of camera gear.

Her work in the Middle East has been nothing short of an inspiration to photojournalists everywhere, but since the theft she’s had to borrow gear and use sub par equipment to do her job. And so two recent journalism school graduates have decided to turn to crowdfunding to try and get her properly equipped to do what she does best.


The campaign was put together by Mayeta Clark and Nic Stone and is being run through Indiegogo. The goal is to raise $5,000 so that Shelton can get all of the gear she needs and not just keep borrowing the bare minimum.

So far the campaign has raised almost $1,700, but depending on the amount raised she may get any combination of bodies and lenses. The camera body may either be a Canon 5D Mark III or a Nikon D600. One option for lenses is a kit containing a 24-70mm f/2.8, a 70-300mm f/4, and a 50mm f/1.8, while a second (cheaper) option is for a 28-300 f/3.5 and a 50mm f/1.8. You can see the whole list on the campaign page, where you can also chose to donate anywhere from $5 to $500.

For your generosity you’ll receive gifts ranging from a hearty thank you to a donation in your name to RISC (free emergency medical training for journalists going into combat zones) to Skype updates from Shelton herself in the field.

Tracy goes back out April 13th, so the campaign really is last minute. If you want to help out a photojournalist in need and put some good karma out into the universe, click here to visit the Indiegogo page and offer your support.

  • Alejandro Wirth

    Thats what i love about you my petapixeleans, allways doing the righteous.

    I´m sure that with you passing the voice around she´ll fastly reach the goal, I´ll contribute with my little just for the sake of karma.

    Thanks for the example.
    Keep it on.

  • Adrian

    Mh. I’m not sure I like this. Why should this be paid for by “the crowd”?

    As I see it, this woman skimped on insurance. There are reasonably priced gear insurances for journos and photographers that cover theft and other nasty business. I know because I’ve use them myself. They pay out full retail price (not day value) and did it quickly, too.

    Just my $0.02

  • slvrscoobie

    Should I do this to upgrade from my Lowly mark III to a 1DX? Sheesh, anyone will crowd fund anything now a days. Help me, Im working in a war zone and didnt get insurance. Woes is me. Just be glad shes alive, and has friends who HAVE cameras she can borrow, lest she be out of a job entirely. I know plently of folk who dont have it so good.

  • Keenan Adams

    And why didnt she have insurance??? Its only 300-500 a year. If you dont buy insurance, then dont to into professional photography

  • Prick

    Canon Eos 1100D with a cheap zoom lens would be sufficient for her.

  • Jonathon Watkins

    I believe that most (all?) camera insurance excludes combat zones. Mine certainly does.

  • Mansgame

    They already have a crowd funding for this – it’s called insurance. I don’t insure everything everywhere because “that’s life” and if I’m out shooting and get robbed, I don’t have insurance for that, but anything stolen at my residence is covered. If I did riskier shooting such as sports, on location commercial work, etc. where my livelihood depended on my gear, I’d more than likely insure the gear. If I was at a freaking war zone then even my shoe laces would be insured.

  • Mansgame

    Well then that falls under “life choice”. We all live with our choices.

  • Rob S

    Agree but a lot of insurance wont pay for acts of war.

  • Sascha Rheker

    The big question with this is responsibility.

    If you help finance a journalists trip to a war zone you enable him/her to go there and with that comes a responsibility.

    If someone needs financial help to buy new cameras you have to ask yourself and maybe you have to ask her:

    – Does she have the resources one needs for working in war zones and does she have the resources one needs if something goes wrong? Compared to even a moderate ransom, medical care, transportation after injury, rehabilitation etc. cameras are quite cheap.

    – Will she take extreme risks, as photojournalists who are not assigned by a media organisation will have to compete with other freelancers to get their pictures published and to earn money?

    Anyone who donates money for these cameras should save some money for the day she get’s injured and really needs help.

  • Sascha Rheker

    Insurances exclude anything connected to war and wind-borne sand.

    Insurances that do not exclude this are so expensive that you can just buy two sets of equipment and be your own insurance…

  • Rob S

    So Im torn here. As a Photographer I feel for her situation and an inclined to help. As a professional soldier I have real issues with the vast majority of conflict journalists. Actually I have issue with anyone who goes to a war zone who doesnt have to. War sucks and I dont understand anyone who chooses to enter a war zone.

  • Ernest Nitka

    My thinking goes along with Rob S. How important is it for her to be in a war zone in the first place? Is she doing something that no one else is doing or could do? She was lucky this time – she got out with her life but that was a ” warning shot” so to speak. I’m doing my part by NOT contributing because it just might save her life!

  • Erik Lauri Kulo

    War sucks and that’s precisely why we need good journalists and photojournalists there to cover the atrocities committed by the west.

  • Rob S

    Well without getting into a political argument…..the vast majority of “atrocities” committee by humans on humans take place outside of conflict zones. In fact, war sucks so badly that most people who find themselves in a war zone are pretty nice to each other.

  • kendon

    you choose to enter a warzone yourself, so your point makes no sense. you’re both professionals, you a soldier, she a journalist, not much of a difference. heck, you even both shoot for a living.

    on topic: where’s all the ppl saying gear doesn’t matter? get her an EVIL or olympus pen and she should be good, right?

  • The all mighty one?

    I don’t get it, if she doesn’t have insurance (for whatever reason) how is this going to help her if she just replaces her gear and goes back in. Who’s to say the same thing won’t happen again?

  • Rob S

    believe me, I didn’t choose it. I choose the profession but as a professional soldier I consider needing to fight a failure. Do your job right and you never have to fight.

    On the other point – absolutely! I dont agree – gear does matter – but it is funny that they people who claim “EVIL/M43/iPhone is good enough” are not speaking up.

  • Rob S

    it might even be MORE likely. Go from being a journalist to an ATM machine.

  • Amir

    I’m ambivalent about this, for and against.

    While it’s admirable to pursue a difficult idea, actually doing something unique instead of armchair commenting, people like this often adopt the “I can take care of myself” attitude when challenged with the realities. Unfortunately, in most cases, this attitude is borne from sheer ignorant chutzpah, a life otherwise truly unchallenged. Simply stated, this woman was not prepared and couldn’t “take care of herself”, she needs unforeseen help.

    However, independents covering conflict zones are worthwhile to minimize or eliminate bias. Also, perhaps what she does now becomes important now or 2, 10, 20 years later due to serendipity. Creative means exist, crowdfunding, to achieve creative ends: new ideas require new methods.

    But seriously, if you haven’t been in a war zone either just don’t go or attend one of these newer preparatory courses. I lived for years in a war zone and life is nothing like what is reported in the media and it not possible to just “take care of yourself”, by yourself.

  • Becca Gulliver

    Does your insurance cover loss of equipment in a warzone?

  • Mark Nowotarski

    What do you think of the awards she is offering?

  • Mayeta Clark

    Hi Petapixel, Thanks so much for posting about this. Greatly appreciated. There is one fact that requires correction in the post – Tracey was a freelancer when her gear was stolen and until recently. But Global Post have just brought her on staff.
    Thanks and best,

  • Adrian

    It does. I got it specifically for work in Afghanistan. I have since “downgraded” to just European coverage though.