Listening – or not listening – to intuition and inspiration can be the difference between getting it done. And not.
Saturday was scheduled to be a busy day. Playing the part of basketball ref for the local youth league from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., took up most of my morning, and covering the girls basketball home game at the high school took up my afternoon.
I had left my camera at the office the night before as I ran out to catch War Horse at the Redwood Theater with my wife – great company, great popcorn, great theater, good movie – and as I stopped to pick it up, I heard a broadcast on the scanner about a possible structure fire.
We listen to a scanner in the newsroom so that we can respond to the news as it happens, rather than after it happens, but there’s no one to listen on the weekends.
That I was in the office was fortuitous, and I thought I would swing by and see if it had developed into anything of note, or if the stellar firefighters of Brookings and Harbor fire departments had once again managed to save a home without giving me opportunity for news photos.
(They’ve developed this habit of responding to fires so quickly and getting them out before they develop that it keeps me from getting pictures of anything more than them just rolling up hoses and heading back to the barn.)
Well, the dispatcher had said Passley Road was the location so I headed out to Harbor.
Wait, Passley Road’s not in Harbor? Hmmm, fooled me.
I got on my smart phone and found out Passley Road was north of town, and figured that since I’d wasted time driving to Harbor, I’d better just go to the basketball game and call it good.
As I got to the high school, I felt inspired to head out to the fire anyway, just in case it had developed into something bigger.
I was glad I followed my intuition because the fire had developed and while the fire departments on scene did their best to save everything they could, the fire was fully engaged by the time they got there and I was able to get some amazing pictures.
Amazing in the sense of news photography. I don’t revel in the loss the family sustained, but I do rejoice in great photography no matter the subject.
I empathize with the renters and the loss of their belongings and I can imagine how saddened I would be by the loss of so many of the things I’ve collected over my 37 years.
But in the end, I hope that I would remember that the best things in life aren’t things. Fire can’t destroy the relationships and memories I have with my wife and my children. Fire can’t destroy the friendships I hold dear, and fire can’t destroy my soul.
I’ve had other experiences with following my intuition both as a photographer and as a dad.
Many of them are too private to share with just anyone, but I’ve come to realize that paying attention to intuition can mean the difference between life and death, and can determine whether or not I get the shot.
In sports photography, my intuition directs me to be in place to capture the peak of action and it is probably born of experience.
In straight photojournalism, inspiration can be a fickle mistress and, more often than not, leaves me with an itch that I
When it does satisfy, I end up with beautiful, story-telling images.