Never underestimate the power of storytelling

Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling by the body of Jeffrey Miller, Kent State University, Ohio.  May 4, 1970 © 1970 Valley News-Dispatch

Mary Ann Vecchio kneeling by the body of Jeffrey Miller, Kent State University, Ohio.
May 4, 1970
© 1970 Valley News-Dispatch

I’m not an EMT or medical professional, I’m not a soldier or anyone even remotely knowledgeable about weapons or security measures. I was never even a boy scout.

I’m a photographer.

In my day job I’m a bookkeeper, so I’m probably even less qualified to help than most “professional” photographers to lend assistance in difficult or traumatic circumstances.

The question is, do you put down the camera to help, or do you take the shot.

Thankfully, by the grace and mercy of God, I have not been put in a position where I had to make that choice.  I don’t know what I would do.

I have read about photographers who have had to choose.  And their choice has haunted them.

This is not a new problem.  Nor is it a question that is going away.  Even as recently as December of last year, these questions have been debated in our public forum.

I would probably take the shot.  In the capacity of being a photographer, a documentarian, at least in that way I can help bring an event to light, make sure it’s well documented, try to tell some kind of story.

That might not offer immediate, on the spot help, but with events like this:

Elizabeth Eckford in front of Little Rock Central High School,  September 4, 1957. © Bettmann/CORBIS.

Elizabeth Eckford in front of Little Rock Central High School,
September 4, 1957.
© Bettmann/CORBIS.

A great photograph can help ignite a debate or even eventually promote change in a way that any mediocre photograph wouldn’t.

Never underestimate the power of storytelling.

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