Documenting Danger

Today I had a cute little post all lined up telling a personal story of how photographers often enter a special kind of 'zone', and how  looking through a viewfinder takes us into a different reality where we act as if we're bulletproof and we forget everything around us while we're documenting what we're focused on. That story will wait for another day as I watch the horror at the Boston Marathon unfold, and I bite my lip and pray for all of those victimized today. As I watch the CNN coverage it strikes me how sometimes we photographers look bad to others or just nuts as we run toward a tragedy like this with our cameras clicking, rather than running far far away, or we take a stand and video the whole thing without regard for the reality that we're not wearing Kevlar and we're not immortal. I know many people can only think of the paparazzi aspect of this type of behavior, and granted, there are those photographers that assault us with images that I would rather not have seen and that just shouldn't be shared.  I appreciate when newscasters give us warning before sharing graphic images. Thanks for that. How do you judge what should be shared and what shouldn't? There's no forumula for that. I've been told by a former journalist that prior to the Reagan era deregulation  cameramen for the nighly news stations were very tightly censored as to the gore they could share. No crying widows, no puddles of blood. Sometimes I appreciate that time, because sometimes the graphic details are too much. I don't need to see the piles of bodies in Haiti, or dead children. Ok, having acknowledged the negative sensational aspects that are definitely there, there's another side to the matter. The documentation of the horrific realities of such events should help us to connect with our family of man on the other side of the world from us. It should help us feel, rather than just emotionally remove ourselves from events on a TV screen as if it was a movie. We need to remember that people are not different depending on their nationality or where they live. They're people. We are a human family. We're supposed to feel like we've been kicked in the gut after we see or hear of something like this. While we hate that feeling and would much rather spend our time seeing happy kittens on youtube, we need to take time out to mourn, to reflect on the realities we face in today's world, and what we need to do about it personally. Sometimes empathy means not taking the picture and honoring an individual's privacy, but sometimes that means taking the picture even when it's almost too much to take. A lot of things will be said about today, but the photos and film will capture the reality because a photographer had the courage to stand and face fear and document the truth. And maybe that truth will help prevent the next one, as authorities use the evidence gathered to pinpoint the realities of what happened. Here's to the courage of those who ran toward the explosions. The First Responders, Law Enforcement, the people who stopped to help each other escape, and those crazy cameramen and journalists.