Saturday, May 15, 2010

"You should have been here 45 minutes ago!"

While attending Syracuse University a professor opened my eyes to one of the most important aspects when covering news events.

Being in a classroom full of photographers the discussion most of the talk was of cameras, lenses, and angles, but it came down to one word, “curiosity.”

You should look beyond the actual event and look for a photo that’s more compelling with emotion.

Upon reading an article about an upcoming public funeral services for the first solder from our area to be killed in Iraq, I called the church, spoke to the event coordinator asking what ground rules were set up for press coverage during the mass.

She mention that a Rosary would be held about a hour before the mass and it might make for a more interesting photos because the casket would be draped with the United State Flag instead of a white cloth.

I like to get to events early so that I can scout out the area and find places that afford a nice clean background or where better pictures would be made from other than an area reserved for photographers.

Also, I wanted to be unobtrusive and show compassion for the mourning family, friends and particularly for the wife he left behind. By staying back far enough away, using a long lens, I was able to capture a photo that still had emotional impact and told the story.

Having arrived for the Rosary, before the other local papers
and the TV crews, I was able to capture a picture of

Michele Bunda as she touched the flag-draped coffin of her late husband Staff Sgt. Christopher Bunda during the Rosary before Mass at the Holy Trinity Roman Catholic Church in Bremerton.

After the Rosary, the flag was ceremoniously removed and folded by the Army’s honor guard and was replaced with plain white cloth. As I was standing there previewing the images in my camera, the local newspaper photographer, who had just showed up, approached and while showing him the scene that was just captured 10 minutes earlier. He said, “That’s the picture”,, looking at the photos on my camera, the one scene pictured of the widow touching the flag draped casket and asked when was this taken?

I told him all about my curiosity, the phone call and of being told to come earlier than the Mass.

Sure, equipment, knowledge, experience, sensitivity, thought, persistence and instinct all played part key parts in helping me to capture an image no other photographer did. But I like to think that “curiosity” of never having covered a Mass, led me to place a photo call that yielded one important piece of information about the Rosary, otherwise, I wouldn’t have been about to get a picture no body else recorded.