Photoville safety clinic

Freelance Safety Clinics provide freelance photographers with one-to-one expert advice

Are you a freelance photojournalist or documentary photographer in need of some expert, one-to-one advice on safety, risk assessment, digital security, or trauma management? Sign up now for one of our FREE virtual safety clinics on either September 25th or 26th, part of Photoville’s 2020 online programming.

Presented by

The ACOS Alliance, the Committee to Protect Journalists, and the Frontline Freelance Register
ACOS Alliance logo in red
CPJ logo
Frontline Freelance Register logo

In partnership with

Photoville logo

Individual clinics will be available online in 45 minute slots.

Participants must complete a registration form to apply for a one-to-one online session with a security advisor:

The ACOS Alliance, Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ), and Frontline Freelance Register are bringing back the hugely popular Freelance Safety Clinic to Photoville!

These clinics are intended for freelancers preparing for an assignment, or who are keen to improve their safety and security. The clinics provide direct access to expert knowledge, advice, and guidance that will help professionals manage their preparations and improve their safety skills.

Security advisors from news organizations including The New York Times, VICE, Reuters, BuzzFeed, CPJ, and others, will be available to provide guidance on safety issues, risk assessment, assignment planning, and digital security. Specialists from the Dart Center for Journalism & Trauma will be on hand to provide guidance on interviewing contributors, self-care, and planning for potentially traumatic assignments.

Individual clinics will be available online in 45 minute slots.

Please note: Freelancers are welcome to bring assignment/story plans and draft risk assessments to discuss with their allocated security advisor, but these consultations are NOT intended as safety sign-offs for individual risk assessments or travel plans. Any advice given should be part of your own assignment preparation; it should not serve as a replacement for it.

This program is supported in part by the Philip and Edith Leonian Foundation


The ACOS Alliance works to embed a culture of safety across newsrooms, and among freelance and local journalists worldwide. Launched in 2015, the Alliance is an unprecedented coalition of news organizations, freelance journalist associations, and press freedom NGOs working together to champion safe and responsible journalistic practices, and implement practical and effective initiatives to meet the Freelance Journalists Safety Principles.

The Committee to Protect Journalists (CPJ) is an independent, nonprofit organization that promotes press freedom worldwide. We defend the right of journalists to report on the news safely, and without fear of reprisal

The Frontline Freelance Register (FFR) is a representative body for freelance journalists, created for and run by, freelancers. As a membership association, FFR is open to international freelance journalists who are exposed to risk in their work, and who adhere to its Code of Conduct. FFR provides its members with a sense of community, while championing their safety and professional practice.


Sally Fitton is High Risk Advisor for the BBC High Risk team.

As part of the High Risk team, Sally advises and assists BBC staff and contracted freelancers on safety and security. It may be for breaking news, an investigative piece or even for a natural history documentary or science programme. The BBC High Risk and News Safety team guides the risk management of tasks, are part of the incident management response when it goes wrong, advise on overseas staff threats, and also deploy on the ground with teams. She is also involved in the delivery of safety training to overseas bureaus, the maintenance and assessment of safety standards, and response to threats against staff. Sally runs the Managing High Risk Deployments course for the BBC. This course is designed to prepare individuals who authorize tasks, or would be the first point of contact in an incident. Sally is a board member at the ACOS Alliance.

Jason Reich

Jason is Vice President of Corporate Security for The New York Times Company. He is responsible for the development and enforcement of all safety and security plans for domestic employees and facilities, while serving as the company’s internal expert on all security matters. He joined The Times in 2019 from BuzzFeed Inc., where he served as Director of Global Security for four years. Prior to BuzzFeed, Jason was the founder and managing director of Collective Security Project, a team of crisis response experts based in the United Kingdom, Turkey, and the U.S. who were contracted to protect journalists, aid workers, and NGOs in challenging environments. Jason is a board member at the ACOS Alliance.

Chris Lawton MA FRGS

Chris has dedicated himself to supporting those working in–and residents of–high risk and hostile environments. He has supported organizations such as the BBC, Bloomberg, and Netflix, as well as the United Nations, World Food Programme, World Vision, and the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent. He has led high risk and trauma first aid training teams globally, and every day he advises individuals and teams who want to live and work in the most challenging of circumstances. He has done this work full time since he left the British Army. Chris is the co-founder of Silk Road Training. Silk Road was set up to offer a powerful digital learning experience that broadens the privilege of knowledge and the benefits of experience to help raise safety standards for everyone.

Stephen Smith

Stephen is the owner of SEPAR International, a risk management, training and organizational development company, and TravSafe, a data protection and accountability app. SEPAR International works globally, and has offices in the U.K., Kenya, and Afghanistan. Stephen is originally from London, U.K., and has worked with the media for over fifteen years in a number of hostile environments. Stephen worked on his Masters Degree at Leicester University, specializing in cyber security and threats to the Afghan Media. Within his company SEPAR International, Stephen has a number of male and female employees whose specialist skills include training, risk management, investigative journalism, surveillance, psychosocial care, and ethical hacking.

With over thirty years experience in security, intelligence, and protection beginning with fifteen years in the British Army, Stephen has worked with a range of professionals to create flexible and safe working systems. He has designed and delivered a number of safety and development courses in a variety of hostile environments and challenging countries. In addition to many international media organizations, Stephen has worked with local journalists in Afghanistan, the Balkans, Bangladesh, Belize, Bhutan, Brunei, Central African Republic, Egypt, El Salvador, Iraq, Kenya, Kosovo, Kurdistan, Laos, Lebanon, Liberia, Malaysia, Mexico, Myanmar, Nepal, Niger, Pakistan, South Africa, Sierra Leone, Somalia, Tanzania, Thailand, The United Kingdom, the United States of America, and Turkey.
Stephen is married to Jo, with two children, and two disobedient dogs, and four anarchic ducks.

Steve Cook

Steve is a highly experienced safety and security professional with a degree in Risk & Security Management. He has worked in a variety of sectors since leaving government service in 2002: energy, communications, television production, and international news-gathering. His career portfolio includes service in the British Military and the British Police. He has considerable experience in location and logistical management including; television field production in documentary and reality formats, often working in harsh, remote locations and environments. He is practiced in pre-deployment planning: devising, implementing, operating, and emergency procedures, crisis management, and contingency planning. He recently covered major breaking news stories in the Middle East, North Africa, and Central Asia for CNN and NBC, FOX NEWS, ABC NEWS, and NEWS International. He is a skilled project manager, and he has established news bureaus for television networks in environmental disaster and conflict zones.

Steve has covered international sporting events including the soccer world cup.
 His career portfolio has produced a formidable level of experience in countries with harsh climatic conditions, environmental disasters, and in conflict zones. He is a culturally aware, accomplished, and competent negotiator, and a fixer with considerable business acumen.

Steve is a strong supporter of freelance journalists, and is highly regarded by organizations as The Rory Peck Trust, CPJ, Reporters Instructed in Saving Colleagues (RISC), FFR, and ACOS. Steve trains and advises government, media, and corporate organizations in risk mitigation, cultural awareness, personal, and residential security, hostage situations, and medical skills, including basic life support. Steve holds the NCRQ L6 Safety for Managers certification, the Television Production Safety Passport, BBC’s Safe Management of Productions qualification, and he is a member of the Chartered Institute of Journalists.

Michael Christie

Michael is the general manager for global logistics and security at Thomson Reuters, where he oversees the safety of around 4,000 staff and freelance journalists. He is responsible for drawing up safety protocols, organizing hostile environment training, procuring personal protective equipment, and deploying security advisers when necessary. He also handles digital security issues, runs editorial’s global trauma program, and supervises logistical support for large special events such as the Olympics and the World Cup. Michael is a board member at the ACOS Alliance.

David Oades

David is one of the physical safety advisors on the emergencies team at CPJ, and he also works as a High Risk Media Advisor at HP Risk Management, a consultancy assisting media organizations operating in fragile environments. He has worked as a group expedition leader in over eighty countries around the world, with fifteen years experience keeping people safe in challenging and hostile environments.

Chris Post

Chris is a staff photojournalist at WFMZ-TV in Allentown, Pennsylvania. A former firefighter and emergency medical technician with more than twenty years experience, Chris transitioned to journalism in 2009, picking up the camera he loved ever since he studied analog photography in the 1980s. Chris has integrated his work experience into a new career: he specializes in breaking news coverage, working in remote locations and disaster sites. Chris formerly worked with the United States Antarctic Program as the Captain of Fire Rescue at McMurdo Station, Antarctica, and as a prehospital EMS provider in the Philadelphia region. Chris’s situational awareness, and understanding of the dynamics of emergency services, give him an edge when covering media rich events where police, fire, and ambulance personnel might be resistant to interaction with the press.

Chris is the national chairperson of the Safety & Security Committee for the National Press Photographers Association. Chris is also a subject matter expert teaching courses in disaster management, emergency medical care, and media relations for emergency responders and FEMA. Chris developed D-HEFAT, a domestic version of the famed international hostile environmental first aid training course. Chris is a local emergency management coordinator in Pennsylvania, and has been a communications specialist on a FEMA Urban Search and Rescue team.
Chris has worked as a safety adviser for major motion picture and network television projects. Chris has a BS in Emergency Disaster Management, and he is a FAA certified sUAV pilot.

Colin Pereira

Colin serves as the Committee to Protect Journalists’s chief strategist on journalist safety. For more than fifteen years, he has worked to shape the risk management model for journalists operating under threat. He is a Director at HP Risk Management, a consultancy assisting companies and media organizations operating in fragile environments. He was head of security for ITN, and Deputy Head of BBC’s High Risk Team. Pereira has advised global teams of journalists covering wars, natural disasters, terrorism, and riots, and he has worked on high risk investigations. Colin Pereira was also an award-winning journalist for BBC Newsnight and BBC Current Affairs.

Ela Stapley

Ela is a digital safety expert and trainer, working with journalists around the world to help them be safer online and anytime they use technology. Ela is part of the Emergencies team at the Committee to Protect Journalists, where she supports journalists facing a wide range of challenges, from device security to online harassment. Ela is a former freelance journalist, and holds a MA in International Journalism from Cardiff University, U.K.

Gavin Rees

Gavin works for Dart Centre Europe, a project of the Graduate School of Journalism, at Columbia University in New York City, that is dedicated to promoting ethical and innovative approaches to the coverage of trauma and violence. The organization provides training and resources for compassionate, professional treatment of victims and survivors by journalists, narrative strategies for telling challenging stories, and how media organizations can safeguard the wellbeing of staff working on potentially traumatic assignments. Gavin works as a trauma awareness consultant for news organizations, NGOs, journalism schools, and documentary production houses across Europe. Earlier in his career, Gavin produced news for U.S., British, and Japanese news channels, and documentary films for the BBC and Channel 4. He was a lead producer on Hiroshima, a BBC documentary drama that won an International Emmy in 2006. Gavin is a board member of the European Society of Traumatic Stress and the U.K. Psychological Trauma Society.

Eliot Stempf

Eliot Stempf is head of high risk for BuzzFeed. Based in London, he works globally across BuzzFeed’s offices and news teams to create a more aggressive and resilient news organisation. Eliot is responsible for managing risk on all news projects, as well as newsroom security training and threat assessment. Previously, Eliot worked in humanitarian aid and development with a focus on the war in Syria. Eliot has an MSc in management from The London School of Economics and Political Science and is a member of the IWMF Advisory Board for Online Harassment.