|Jesus & Gloria say good-bye before the funeral service for their son Jesus Fonseca, Jr.|
The recent events in Newtown, Connecticut have lit up social media and forums about how will we go forward and change.
While photojournalists and journalists have trained to cover tragedy nothing truly prepares you for the actual event. An event can be gut wrenching and can trigger Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for the journalist. Even if the journalist doesn't suffer long term from PTSD they are never the same after experiencing events like the school shooting in Newtown.
Often journalists are sent to cover events and because of the shock it is difficult for them to get their head around something when the emotions alone are making it so difficult to concentrate.
I believe one of the best things a journalist can do is to feel the situation I think too often in order to make it through an event journalists tend to try and shut down their emotions and cover the event logically.
Always ask yourself two questions whenever you pick up the camera:
- Why am I taking this photograph?
- What am I trying to say with this photograph?
If you shut down your emotions and not ask these questions truthfully you can end up traumatizing the subjects you photograph and your audience needlessly.
In the photo above I asked the family about covering the funeral for the Catholic Newspaper. They wanted to share their experience with the community. I wanted the community to experience the loss of the family. I wanted them to want to respond. For this audience praying for the family would be an appropriate expectation for the Catholic Newspaper.
In the lower photograph I was working at a small newspaper and shot this image. Showing the child getting out of the car for me was a relief. While you can see the mangled car you also see hope of the child being rescued by the man.
The best photos I make in these situations are when I feel my emotions and learn to help them guide me to help the readers experience what I am feeling. I also am careful not to needlessly shock for shock value.
Today's News Media are young
The last few years the media has been laying off all the veterans and hiring younger and younger people to fill the roles of the journalists. The downside to this is many of them are covering some of their first traumatic events. Most all of them have not been trained like our military that goes through classes to help avoid PTSD.
If you find the journalists not quite sensitive, they might just be traumatized and having a difficult time themselves. Just look at how many journalists during 9/11 and just this week have broken down while covering the story.
Take a moment and pray for these journalists that they understand their role and are in touch with their emotions. Pray that they are asking what is the story and what are they trying to say so we stay informed.