Friday, March 16, 2007

Lens is Buffer to Reality

What many people don't realize about our jobs is the terrible things we often see while on assignment, the worst of which readers will rarely see in print. We're called out to fires, shooting and natural disasters, and many times we're sucked into the story whether we like it or not. On assignment, I was covering a fatal crash the day after it had occurred. I went to the police station where the vehicles involved were stored as well as making a visit to the scene. And although it was a day after the accident and no victims were on the scene, I was still forced to ponder the seriousnes of the event, and I still shot photos that show the personal side of something so terrible, but never made the paper..

When I arrived at the police station, I was escorted out to the two vehicles...the first I saw was a semi, it was torn up in the front, but for the most part didnt look too bad. I knew though, that the other would be bad, because it was a Suburban, and it had been hit by the semi (which also had a flatbed trailer hitched to it) out on Highway 71. When I first saw the Suburban, it was obvious why a fatality had occurred. The entire passenger side was crushed...the SUV was a mangled mess. It was obvious the car had flipped at least once, because a tuft of grass was caught in the driver's side window. As we got closer, the officer with me gave a warning about the state of the inside, but I pressed on. That kind of stuff doesnt seem to bother me much, especially when I'm working. It's like my camera is some sort of buffer between me and reality, and as long as I keep working and dont dwell on the scene in front of me, I'm okay. But he was right, the inside was a mess of glass, blood, and scattered personal items like CDs, stuffed animals, a purse, and various photographs.


Next I headed to the accident sight, thinking that there will most likely be an emotional scene of friends and family there. But when I arrived, there was no one in sight. The only people who even slowed down were those wondering what I was up to. Just like the Suburban, there were remnants of the accident that had occurred. Normally this scene would have looked like any other accident secene, but knowing of the fatality, I was forced to see it through different eyes. There were marks in the grass on both sides of the road where each vehicle tore up the Earth and finally came to a stop. The ground was still littered with debris...another stuffed animal, a Sony PSP, a cell phone, tools, a key, more CDs, clothing and so on.I get a few shots, wait for someone to show, and finally leave. On my way back to town, I'm sure to put my seatbelt on and I can't help but think twice every time a semi shakes my pickup as it rumbles by on the two-lane highway.

You can only imagine what we sometimes deal with covering assignments like these. We see people dealing with tragedy fairly regularly. Whether it be a fire, a funeral, a car crash, a body discovered, whatever the case may be. For some it can become very personal, for others dealing is not so difficult...regardless, it's difficult to forget some of the things we see.

12 comments:

Anonymous 3/16/2007 8:02 PM  

ouch...you see the pictures but don't think about how the photographer got those pictures. Sad.

Anonymous 3/16/2007 8:02 PM  

ouch...you see the pictures but don't think about how the photographer got those pictures. Sad.

Anonymous 3/16/2007 8:03 PM  

ouch...you see the pictures but don't think about how the photographer got those pictures. Sad.

Anonymous 3/16/2007 8:03 PM  

ouch...you see the pictures, but rarely think about the process of taking them. That is a sad series.

Anonymous 3/16/2007 8:03 PM  

ouch...you see the pictures but don't think about how the photographer got those pictures. Sad.

Anonymous 3/16/2007 8:03 PM  

ouch...you see the pictures but don't think about how the photographer got those pictures. Sad.

impear 3/17/2007 8:09 AM  

Pictures tell a better story than the articles published. They allow the reader to draw their own conclusions and to be sucked into the emotion of the event. Words are overrated.

Anonymous 3/18/2007 8:55 AM  

This story really is so true. Everytime I see an accident I get teary eyed thinking about the details that probably happened, and the family that has to deal with them. But I guess I never really thought about how the media deals with it, I guess I always thought they just saw it in a different light. Thanks for sharing, this was fantastic to read.

Anonymous 3/19/2007 10:03 AM  

Those are sad pictures, I'm sure it was hard to see.

Anonymous 3/19/2007 10:08 AM  

Nice job with both the written material and the photos as your describe the scenario. You should be a writer as well as a photojournalist

Greg Pearson 3/19/2007 10:25 AM  

Every once in awhile I write a small piece of copy to go along with a special projest. I can only seem to write about things that move me or are special in some way. I'm amazed at how writers can continuously churn out stories about things that might not necessarily interest them...but then again, I take photographs of subjects I woulndt normally choose to shoot on my own time everyday.

Jim Hudelson 3/19/2007 10:57 AM  

I will never forget shooting my first fatality during my first internship in Indiana......

It took me a second to figure out why the emergency workers were standing around and not helping the lady slumped over the wheel.

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