Colorado Flooding and Photojournalism

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Over the past week, a lot of news stories have focused on the historic flooding in Colorado. Looking at photos of the area, it’s kind of mind-blowing just how destructive water can be. It also makes you wonder just what kind of person it takes to be a photojournalist covering this story. After all, a regular journalist filing a report can sit somewhere nice and dry and safe and collate data from different sources and witnesses. They don’t have to actually be there to cover the story. But to capture an image of it or to get video of it, well, you have to be there and with a rather high-end camera in hand.

Photojournalists are very rugged individuals to be willing to fly off to the scene of a disaster, to put themselves in danger, all to provide photographic evidence for a story. They often are called upon to cover war scenes, terrible weather, man-made disasters, as well as the good things: school openings, seasonal celebrations, elections, holidays, and the like. Frequently, they do work in regional teams with string photographers submitting their images back to the journal’s headquarters but that still requires having someone there on the ground in a way that few other things do. So, the next time you’re glancing at the photo on the front page of the news paper or you’re looking over the images that illustrate a magazine article, take a moment to remember that for those images to be there, a photographer had to be present and, for photos of disaster and war scenes, willing to put himself in harm’s way just so you could see what he was seeing.

— da Bird