A Difficult Task
February 08, 2014 • Leave a Comment
A couple weeks ago a dear friend of mine was killed in the line of duty with another firefighter, while on a call for the Toledo Fire Department. It was such an unexpected and tragic shock to everyone. He had been my inspiration to learn and play guitar for my church and was always the life of the group. He held a very special place in my life and will always be remembered.
A few days before the funeral, some of his family had asked me to take some photographs so that his little daughter and 2 month old son would have something to look back on and remember their father. It was a very difficult task to accept; but I wanted to honor the family's request and use my abilities as a photographer to maybe give the family something to remember- not the pain and heartache, but the celebration of his life and the multitudes of people who attended the service.
The day prior to the funeral, there had been a last alarm memorial service for the two fallen firefighters and the event was televised and many dignitaries and people attended to show their support. The service was very moving and the ceremonial events were awesome. It was expected that the funeral the next day was to be very crowded with friends, family and other fire houses from around the area.
The day of the ceremony, the church was packed full of people paying their respects and celebrating the life of this brave firefighter. I was nervous about photographing the service, so much so, that I had gotten very little to no sleep the night before! I knew that this was something that the family had wanted done, but that did not help with the awkwardness one bit. I wanted to be invisible and unseen through the whole ceremony and to be very sensitive to the family and those who were mourning- that was the plan. I felt very out of place and as though I was sticking out like a sore thumb. I managed to grab a few shots without drawing too much attention to myself, but I can honestly say that it was one of the most challenging (both emotionally and professionally) experiences of my photography career. I was both there as a mourning friend and as a photographer with a job to do. I hope that maybe some of the images I was able to capture will be a a part of the healing and mourning process. And also something that his children and wife will be able to look back and remember his life and all those who he affected and inspired. I am honored for having the chance to participate in honoring and remembering the life of one of my friends using my talents and abilities. I hope that I will not be needing to do this very soon or often.
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