When I was young, I watched the firefighter movie Backdraft. At the beginning, without spoiling it, you witness a tragic event of a young boy and his father. In an instant, a photojournalist with his 35mm film camera and handle mount flash come out of nowhere, fires off about three of four frames and leaves.
The young boy is left speechless and stoic.
The photo adorns the cover of LIFE magazine (not for real of course).
I always wondered about the fictitious photographer. Why document something so tragic? While only a movie, there are occurrences like out of a movie that actually happen daily around the world. And, every so often, a photojournalist is there at the right place at the right time documenting it all.
It's really hard to explain. It's in our DNA to document. We love life and with our cameras we hope to create awareness about issues in the community. For just the hope that our work will affect the life of another, is what fuels us.
It fuels me.
If we have touched one soul, just one, then job well done.
This is my hope.
Today was a "Backdraft" moment. While not at a fire scene I did stumble on a biker sitting down on the asphalt on Washington Road. If you know that road you know it's always busy. Cars bustle by every second. Unfortunately for this man, he took a nasty hit from an oncoming SUV that he did not calculate.
A bent rim. A little shaken.
An ambulance, police cruizer and a photojournalist all converged.
However, for this photojournalist, I didn't know it was going to happen on the way to grab a bite to eat.
I didn't think, I just reacted. Remember? DNA.
While not newsworthy, it was a good habit to just keep firing off frames and ask questions later.
The woman of the SUV looked at me as if I had lobsters crawling out of my ears when I asked her name and what happened. I always find it odd that people think somehow we are the enemy. I told her that bike safety is a hot issue right now considering last month's coverage of a downed biker. In my head I was thinking, "Create awareness." I'm assuming she was thinking, "No. Way. I don't want to be in the paper."
It's always odd that in the moment, no one can see past that moment. As if racing blinders are on our eyes. But no, us photojournalists see beyond that. We see a little ways down the road that we might be part of cultivating some change for the future. While this wasn't "newsworthy." It was to me because it was a drop in the bucket. Another brick in the wall. Another granule of sand on the beach. To be part of something greater. We need to have a bike-friendly city.
No, I'm not trying to exploit the folly of others, actually it's quite the opposite. If you see past the moment, you'll find there's more to the picture.
Ride safe. Drive safe.