In the past week or so I've photographed two separate fires. Fires aren't necessarily something that I want to shoot, but bad things happen and when they do I want to be able to showcase the men and women who run head first into harms way in order to protect others.
The first fire was at a small factory building. Jake text me telling me that there was a huge fire. I looked out the window and could see the smoke even though it was a couple miles away. I grabbed my cameras and turned on the scanner so that I could hear what was going on.
When Kaylah and I got there smoke was still billowing out of the building but the flames were mostly under control. The streets were blocked off so we hopped on the train tracks and followed them around to the back of the building.
The next fire was one only a few blocks away from me. I had just left my house when I saw a plume of black smoke and immediately threw my car into reverse and went back inside to grab my cameras.
Commercial fires are one thing, but when it's someone's home it breaks my heart. I feel terrible for the people who lived here but thankfully they made it out ok.
Photographing fires and other catastrophes is a lot like street photography. I guess in a technical way it might actually be considered street photography. Both document the good parts and the bad parts of the world that we live in. Seeing someone's home destroyed is terrible and ugly, but witnessing the selfless acts of heroism performed by the men and women of the Cleveland Fire Department is beautiful. No one wants to hang a photo on their wall of a burning home or a person on the street begging for change, but this is the world around us and we can either turn our backs, ignore these events and these people; or we can acknowledge them and let them remind us that we need to be thankful for every little thing that life has given us. My grandfather, who suffered from debilitating MS for years before passing away, never complained, never said anything negative, and never wanted anyone to feel sorry for him; because he believed that someone always has it worse. To me, that's what photos like this are meant to do. They're meant to show us that no matter what happens, someone always has it worse, and that even in the worst of times, there is still beauty in world.