“This Job Is Never Easy…” 24•July•13

A woman pauses in her father’s apartment destroyed by fire at New Windsor Gardens apartment in New Windsor, NY on Wednesday, July 24, 2013. A kitchen fire in the apartment displaced eight families and injured three firefighters in the Monday afternoon blaze.  © CHET GORDON/Times Herald-Record

One of the many aspects I truly love about being a working photojournalist is that you never really know what the day ahead will bring your way as far as having the opportunity to make good, honest, story-telling images. Sometimes a whole story or event can sort of be summed up in one frame. Kind of like what’s required of wire service photographers. They’re trained to seek out and capture precise moments that can tell the story without the added benefit of the surrounding story in text. Demanding photo editors expect good “moments” from their photographers. Yea, that’s what I really like – those small snippets of everyday life whether it’s around the corner in a familiar neighborhood or at some far-flung location working for a client, publication or myself on a working vacation / shooting assignment. Yesterday was no different. How do I show up in shorts and sandals to yet another home destroyed by fire two days earlier, and come away with not only usable frames, but a few “home run” keeper images as well? The above image would’ve been jumping up off the light table if it were made on either negative or transparency film, back in the day. I’ve always felt throughout my career that sometimes one of the most difficult expectations of the job is that I continually challenge myself to get to the correct place to make these kind of images. (In an earlier video interview linked here on the blog, two icons in the world of photojournalism David Burnett & Kenneth Jarecke called it simply, “Finding a place to stand…” – at the 5:55 mark of the video.) Why just settle for the simple, burned-out building image from street level, when you realize the residents are upstairs going through their belongings, trying to salvage what they can? Make the effort to go upstairs, graciously introduce yourself, be respectful and get to work, because “That’s where the pictures are man…”  ~cg.

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