We got a few emails asking us if we were out taking pictures of the great flood of 2013. Our answer is an emphatic no and here is why:
- We are not photo journalists - our job is not to mission around and take reportage photos. There is plenty of coverage by the professional media.
- When authorities ask that people stay away from evacuated areas, we respect their need for space to do their job (which they are doing incredibly well). The last thing police and rescue officials need is to save our sorry asses just because we wanted to take photos of the disaster.
- Officials asked people not to travel unless absolutely essential. Getting pictures for our personal album or own interest is not essential. We are not adding to the road traffic of sightseers trying to get close to the action.
- The best thing we can do is stay home, stay out of the way and make space for family or friends who need help.
So… this is a bit of a rant.
Most photographers in Alberta are not in the heat of the action and are in homes high and dry. There is no need for you to rush out and make images just because you have a camera. No one needs your photo and we don’t need you to be rushing around, crossing safety barriers, ignoring evacuation orders and just plain being a selfish turd so you can get photos for yourself or to try and get 5 minutes of fame for your photo or video. You are just getting in the way! In fact we constantly hear on the radio requests that people stay home because the roads are jammed. Sure we would all love to see the action especially if we live nearby. Consider voluntarily not going especially if you add to traffic volumes.. But when firmly requested to stay away, please do so!
If you were in the flood zone and are affected directly, then we understand your need to document what is happening with your property especially for insurance or disaster relief purposes or to alert the media. But please be safe and follow instructions of safety personnel. The people directly affected are in the minority. Mostly what is happening is people with cameras or smartphones are heading out to gawk and some people are going way too far in their zeal to document things; frankly we are surprised no one has been harmed yet from being where they shouldn’t. One video we saw showed a photographer almost taken out by a piece of deck falling off a property being ravaged by Cougar Creek in Canmore. Now that is just dumb!
And to the media… you can’t have it both ways. First you send out firm messages that people should stay home and not become part of the throng of onlookers but then in the same sentence you ask people to send in their videos and photos of flood coverage and reward photographers with press and interviews for doing so. We understand great photos and videos can come from people on the ground but don’t encourage those not caught in the disaster to make their way down to get footage for you. Again if officials request you stay home, then do it.
Samantha and I live about one kilometre from the Bow River in Cochrane and over the last few days we walked down to the river to see the water rising. We walk Brando, our dog, daily along the river so this was not a special trip in any way. We were not in any area of mandatory evacuation and when the waters got high enough to warrant barriers by the police and the town, then we stayed away. We wished more photographers would follow the rules – no wonder photographers are getting a bad name!