Photography by Gerry Frederick

Tragedy of fire

I must first temper this post with a point of sadness. My sympathies are directed to the people that have suffered a loss at the hand of these tragic fires. Even while looking through the view finder at the images I’m about to shoot it’s impossible not to feel their deep sorrow. At all of the fires I’ve photographed over the past year no one lost their life and there were no serious injuries. Just property loss as if that wasn’t enough. The lives of the people displaced continue to sway from; glad to be alive to what do I do next. Truly sad indeed. Last week four buildings on the main street of our town burnt down. Three weeks before it was a house just on the outskirts. A year before it was a house about five miles down the highway.

While photographing the fires I did not feel helpless because the fire fighters were on site and doing all that they could. Another thought while looking through the view finder is what a tough job those first responders have. The danger is obvious. Sometimes I feel compelled to scream out warnings but I know they would never hear me. I need to remember that this is what they do, they are operating right in their comfort zone.

I’m not a great night photographer yet and fires are the toughest to shoot at night. It seems as soon as you figure out the metering the fire flares and you are forced to either push the button or re-adjust. Auto is little or no help at all. All the action from the fire fighters adds to difficulty in framing and exposure. One thing that is always a common denominator is the drama. That is what any photographer wants to capture, not the tragedy, that needs no author it speaks for its self.


9 responses

  1. You did a wonderful job of documenting this.I love the photo of the little boy.Well done.

    April 29, 2012 at 5:49 pm

    • Thank you. It was kinda hard to press the shutter when I saw the look on the boys face while he was talking to the fireman. It was very disturbing to him as you can see. Fires are tragic for everyone.

      April 29, 2012 at 6:06 pm

  2. That last picture could be on the cover of Time Magazine … it is so dramatic. There are so many great things about this capture. The firefighter coming down to the boys level, the look on the little boys face and that happy face sign … you couldn’t have put that there in a millon years. What a great shot and thanks for sharing. Tom

    April 29, 2012 at 6:42 pm

    • Thanks Tom. I’m going to the fire hall this week to get the name of the fire fighter and I will try to get the name of the boy too. yes I could see the depth through the view finder when I zoomed in. Very telling.

      April 29, 2012 at 7:11 pm

  3. Wow. That last photo. Cut me to my core. I’ve seen that look on children’s faces before and it means a great deal of sadness and confusion.

    April 29, 2012 at 8:16 pm

  4. You did a great job capturing the look and feel of the fires. And the impact (not that I’m sure the little boy was) that it can have. Excellent job!

    April 30, 2012 at 7:41 am

  5. Fires are indeed tragic and saddening…you have done a great job documenting these events. The photo of the fireman and the boy tells the whole story. Well done Gerry!

    May 1, 2012 at 12:16 pm

  6. the raw heat of unwanted fury came through my screen as I scrolled your amazing photos
    well done Gerry

    May 4, 2012 at 7:49 am

    • Thank you for the kind remarks. Photographing a fire like this is rather tough. The entire time while looking through the view finder all you can see is someones loss and heartbreak.

      May 26, 2012 at 8:56 am

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