A First-Person View of What It’s Like to Photograph Protests in Egypt

Want to experience what it feels like to be a photojournalist in the midst of the violent protests and clashes that have been occurring throughout the country of Egypt? Check out the video above.

It was created by photographer Amanda Mustard, a self-taught freelance photojournalist who’s currently based in Cairo, Egypt. When an anti-Islamic video went viral online in September 2012, Mustard went onto the streets with a GoPro mounted to her DSLR to document the resulting turmoil.


The footage has resulting photographs sprinkled throughout at the times they were captured.

These clips are from three of these days, closing with the morning of 15 September, when police clamped down on the uprising with force by destroying all stalls and tents in Tahrir Square and arresting scores of protestors.

Mustard — who’s just 23 years old, by the way — was shooting with a Canon 5D Mark II DSLR, a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens, and a GoPro 2 mounted to the hotshoe.

Photojournalist Amanda Mustard

Photojournalist Amanda Mustard

After creating the video above, Mustard decided to try and do point-of-view videos more regularly. “I think it’s important to a firsthand look into the dramatic, or sometimes dramatized, moments where ‘sellable’ news images are created,” she writes. “Also, you can get a feel for highs and lows of what it was like to be there, to correct the all-too-often-exaggerated perception the media often gives.”

Here’s a second video from October 2012, showing supporters and opponents of then-President Morsi engaging in violent clashes on the streets:

You can find more of Mustard’s work on her website and on her Tumblr page.

P.S. Earlier this year, we shared a similar point-of-view video that was captured during protests in Brazil.

  • Richard

    Incredible. Wow. Reminds me of James Nachtwey’s work in War Photographer.

  • PJ

    Please, don’t even start to compare this to Nachtwey’s work…

    She has a lot to learn seeing from the way she behaves in this video.

  • Richard

    I said it reminds me of Nachtwey’s work in War Photographer. Have you seen the movie? If so, how can you dispute that? He mounted a pre-goPro video camera on his SLR and shot.

    And, I think she’s done great work in both of her videos. I give her a lot of credit for learning by doing in a very tough war zone (especially for a western woman).

  • PJ

    I have and apart from the fact that she does have a video camera mounted to her camera the comparison really stops here.

    We’ll agree to disagree concerning the quality of both the video and photos up to this point.

  • Richard


    Let me know when you return from Egypt and how it went.

  • PJ

    I’ve only passed through Egypt while going to Libya, sorry.

  • Amanda

    Chill brother, I originally started these videos to study my workflow and to document cases of sexual assault while working. Later realized that it’s a great opportunity to show the world what it’s really like on the ground rather than through the snippets mainstream media puts out. I do have a lot to learn, I’m young and that’s a given. No need to be rude.

  • Jake

    Really? The “if you haven’t done it, you can’t critique those who did.” argument? I thought we were over that BS.

  • ggkkll

    I’m with PJ. The fact that she was there and tried to document it is commendable, but the quality is nothing to write home about.

  • Richard

    I think you’ve done well Amanda. Thanks for sharing your work. The way to learn is to keep shooting, and keep sharing.

    The discussion at PetaPixel can be pretty harsh. Hopefully the fact that you’re following it will keep the tone civil.

  • Ali

    I found this particularly inspiring. I’ve always wondered what it is like to be a war photographer and is this the closest video I’ve seen to it. Great perspective. I was particularly shocked at how young Amanda looked!

  • Amanda

    Appreciate your feedback, PJ. If you’re referring to the sometimes skittish nature of my behavior, please research the sexual assault epidemic in Egyptian protests. Rule #1 for the ladies is to never get caught in tight crowds or in tense situations that you can’t escape from. As I hope you can imagine, this greatly affects my work, as I can never fully focus on shooting. I must always be aware of the attitude of each and every person around me at all times, and cannot always be in the center of the action. But I do my best at the situations I can partake in while protecting myself.

    I had a ton of GoPro footage laying around, and thought this would be a neat thing to do with it. Also, I’m obviously not going to shoot all of my best work in a day. I’m not trying to prove a thing. Can’t please em all, I guess. Cheers

  • PJ

    That’s the way I saw your video as well Amanda. More of a self critique and journal than real work.

    I wasn’t being personal, simply giving out critique that the few years I have over you have taught me. I’m glad that you understood.

  • Daniel

    Still scratching my head over some of these responses, I wouldn’t dwell on them. Impressive work anyway, especially considering the circumstances.

  • gighie

    Actually, what I take away from the work is the some of the decision-making that goes behind taking a picture. I’m not a photojournalist but I’ve shot a rally or two, and at times I’ve felt ambivalent about what to shoot because what we witness as photographers (and I suppose journalists as well) aren’t always as black and white as what you intend to present to the public.
    I’m a little surprised at some of the vitriolic comments here. That’s the nature of the web, I suppose.