As a photo-editor for a publication, I often assign and take photos of events on campus. ranging from baseball games to drama plays. Shooting a photography assignment always involves triggering the camera’s shutter, often producing a decent photo, occasionally capturing a meaningful action, and if you’re good, an emotion.
Sometimes however, our job is much more important, and our task involves capturing the emotions of a tragic event, or the pain that comes from remembering it. All this in the name of remembrance, for those who did not witness the pain and allow them to know what happened; And for us to remember and make sure it does not happen again.
I faced such an event last Monday, as I was taking photos of Tundun Lawani’s death anniversary.
In a conversation with a professional photographer to whom I had shared my discomfort with photographers acting as predators on that event, I was told an anecdote; “People are not happy when we are there, and angry when we are not”. This clearly reflects how sensitive our job is, the conundrum of being respectful yet getting the job done, however uncomfortable it may be.
There is a fine line between capturing people’s emotions, and respecting the space, privacy, and time every everyone needs when dealing with the loss of a loved one.
Personally, I feel like that line was crossed when I stepped into CFA with a camera in hand. Who am I, after all, to invade your space, shove a camera in your face and in the name of “remembrance” mechanically trigger my shutter until I am satisfied with my photos? The overbearing presence and inconsiderate attitudes shown Monday is what made me stop taking photos and go in line, because that is where I belonged. By my friends, those who needed a friend more than a photographer.
While taking photos is the job of a photographer, I remain a human and a friend, one who respects and gives space, especially on such occasions. Failing to do so is to fail each and every person present Monday night and most importantly, the memory of Tundun. It is as a photographer but also as a friend that I write today, one who understands that even though the job must be done, respect should remain our main priority.
I sincerely hope that anyone we (I or a fellow photographer) may have have disrespected will accept our earnest apologies.
Jason Deschamps, TKS Photo Editor.