The Last PhotoMarch 3rd, 2010 8:12am
TORONTO – It is perhaps the one single thing that bothers me the most about being a photojournalist- taking the last photo of an individual before (and sometimes after) he or she passes away.
It has happened several times in the past, and I’m certain it will happen again.
More troublesome to me is when they are published in the news- that quick snap of someone being wheeled into an ambulance or sometimes being wheeled into the emergency room of a trauma hospital.
When I arrive at a scene, though, I’m quite detached from everything that is happening. There is no crash. There is no fire. There is no victim. There is only a set of images that I need to photograph and ensure it shows the magnitude of the incident. When looking through the viewfinder of my camera I only see light and a set of ‘things’ that I need to get within the frame. There is no emotion, no connection to the reality of the incident whatsoever. But that doesn’t last.
It usually happens when things calm down a bit at the scene- when the camera dangles around my neck, and I’ve had a chance to quickly look through the shots to make sure they were exposed fine and that I captured what I needed- and that is the HIT of what has just happened in front of my eyes. And at some scenes that HIT can really mess with your mind.
It’s almost as if I have gone from being a robot to a human being in a split second.
Time to leave…and reflect. The drive away from the scene is always full of thought. Sometimes regret. Regret that I had to be the one to take the last photo of an individual.
I sometimes think of my own life, the journey from birth to today. The ups and downs. High-school, trips, friends, moments – lots of moments. Then I think of the countless amounts of photos that have been taken of me by friends and family including that very first baby photo. I can only imagine that the victim or victims went through the same. I imagine their family and friends have taken countless photos of them in happier times.
But destiny had me taking their last one.
My deepest condolences to family of the Peel Region Officer who passed away last night. My thoughts and prayers are with his family and the entire police force who have just lost a hero.