The complex face-mapping software used by Snapchat allows users to transform their appearance with a range of filters, and turn themselves into a dog, a lion, or a fire-breathing dragon, for example – usually seen as features designed to entertain.
But this technology can have “serious applications for journalism,” Omar told Journalism.co.uk. He found that Snapchat’s filters enabled him to get raw, emotional interviews with the young survivors taking part in the climb.
In a series of one-on-one interviews during the climb, Omar asked each interviewee to choose a filter to disguise themselves.
“Recording with a mask gave them the sense of legitimacy and security that I wasn’t going to be able to show their face, as opposed to trusting a journalist saying ‘yes, we will blur you afterwards’, so they felt empowered and in control of the narrative.”