The Best Aftermath Wins

Vehicle which was struck and then burst into flames, Lynn, MA

After 45 years of chasing news professionally  I realize I cannot be the first on the scene with a camera unless I am the first one on the scene. Everyone is ready to capture the moment happening in front of them.It started about midnight last night when in the background as I was sort of sleeping I heard someone on my scanners say, “fully involved.” I had not a clue who it was and as quickly as I turned over to see the scanner display, the channel changed and without my reading glasses on I could not have seen it anyway.

Seconds later my Nextel chirped from a scanner buffs call to tell me about a serious accident in Lynn MA. I was up getting dressed when I got my 2nd call this time on the home phone. There was also a voice mail from a friend who on sighted the accident. When I got to the scene of the horrific accident I noticed there was plenty of access visually to the two car accident with one car totaled including having been fully involved in fire and the other which had 5 people in it pretty much crushed from the impact. It was the car with the five people in it, which struck the first car. The car, which was struck, burst into flames, the driver got out of the car aglow with the fire engulfing him.

First thing I noticed was all the people with their cell phones working the scene. I knew right away to get what I could of the aftermath then start the search for someone who had some good visuals. I was across the street from the damaged cars when this young fellow found me and told me about his video, the car fully involved in flame and the driver running around on fire. I looked at the  video and said my station would like to purchase it. He was all excited and the arrangements were made for him to email in the video. Usually the video or stills I find are “good enough” for use on websites and even to be broadcast on a news report.

The problem was and is as a long time news photographer I cannot beat the competition anymore. The competition is anyone who has a cell phone, smart phone or any other portable device, which takes stills or video. The other problem being practically everyone has the technology and knows what to do with it. Of course there is my brother in-law and uncle who have not a clue of how to work their phones other than to say hello. The current news person not only has to get to a scene, sum up what is needed to cover the story then search for the person with the best images they can get for their news organization or social media network.

This is the link to the images and video captured at the scene and aired by WCVB-TV by  smart phone user Stephen Socci.

I do well on the search for the best stuff available as my station sort of allows me to make offers to the owner of these images with a financial reward. Not only do I try to get there first I have to be first in gathering other people’s stuff. The most important words in what we do with instant media is “right now” and I plan to be all over it.

Many years ago during a holiday dinner with a family friend the host, David Estes kept talking to me about how wonderful it was to be published. I had never given it any thought. I was published everyday and took it for granted. So the bottom line here is everyone is a news photographer whether they really are a news photographer. So if you are a “real” news photographer get to the incident, size it up and make sure you shoot the best aftermath, as that is all that is going to be left most times.

Back in the late 70s I covered an MIT Commencement where Lee Iacocca spoke and his last words were “graduates, start your engines.”

As the great news photographer Nat Whittemore once told me when I switched to TV, “dazzle them with your footwork.”

In the new world of news I say, “good enough video gets published and the professional news photographers must see what others don’t see and make theirs more compelling.”

FYI, when I asked my daughter Molly if she had read this blog her answer was “do you mean the one where you whine about people and their iPhone photos?”


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