Thursday, April 12, 2007

Empathy

We have written before about the difficulty of covering funerals, it's hard to explain what it's like. Most of the time for us it's just another day at work. But on occasion it can be emotionally taxing. Military funerals are especially hard for me. I have a relative overseas in the war and it's always hard to lock that out.



Yesterday I shot Coach Eddie Robinson's funeral. I wrote earlier in the week about spending a day with him and his wife. So having seen the way they were together I knew the funeral might be difficult. For the most part it was a happy occasion, a celebration by thousands of people who had gathered together to celebrate his life.

But during the first song, Doris Robinson broke down and wept. The strength and composure she had shown all week left her in an instant. For just three minutes in a nearly four hour funeral we saw the grief and sorrow that strikes someone who has lost the one thing they love the most.



Watching through thousands of dollars of glass and mirrors, you can't look away and the camera is no longer a barrier. You are involved. You watch and you shoot and you are truly attached. For a moment you feel just a fraction of what that person feels and there is nothing to be done about it. All we can do is our jobs and try to understand what true empathy feels like.

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