Disaster Photography

I’ve been checking the latest news stories — especially the ones about the missing Flight 370 and the recent mudslide in Washington state. There’s also the ongoing troubles in Turkey, Syria, and Egypt along with the Ukraine. And, in all of these places, photojournalists are there sending images of what’s going on back to those of us living in safe, comfortable conditions.

It must take a really special kind of person to do that. I know that my personal response to being in a dangerous situation is to look for a way to get out of it, not pull out a camera and start snapping photos. Like most normal people, I prefer to observe world-shattering historical events from a distance. Preferably a distance of time as well as space. But photojournalists flock to these locations and often risk their own lives to let the rest of us see what is going on. String reporters and local reporters also do the same, helping to get the story out. And, in this new 24/7 news cycle, we’ve gotten used to the “fog of war” effect where the first stories on an event are usually dead wrong.

Still, it must take a really special person to run towards the sound of gunfire, towards police pounding on a protester for taking a photo of them, towards the ground zero of natural disasters and man-made ones alike. Are they adrenaline junkies? Disaster fetishists? Or just incredibly brave people committed to telling the truth and not letting it be airbrushed and glossed over by people in the green zones.

What do you think? And could you do it? Let us know in the comments below!

— da Bird