Post by Jason Plotkin
There have times in my career where people have questioned my compassion. Said to me that I am cold and heartless for taking the photos I have.
I once covered a fire where a woman lost her 2-year-old daughter. The photograph I took was of an EMT consoling the mother outside of the home where this little girl died. Once this image hit the front page, the angry calls and letters came next.
I had no problem defending this photo or my actions at the scene.
Sometimes people need to look deeper at a photograph. Not just let their initial instincts take over, but possibly see what I see.
While some looked at this photo and saw a grieving mother, I saw an emergency worker, who had no relation to this woman, showing compassion and consoling a stranger at possibly the worst time in their life. While not many emergency workers like being labeled a hero, I really believed that this person went above and beyond to help a person in need. And my photographing this scene turned into something more than a tragedy.
I bring this up because of an assignment I had today.
You see, it’s flu season and that means people getting flu shots. So I was sent to an elementary school to get photos of kids getting both a shot and flu mists.
We’ve all seen photographs that come from covering this. Scared, crying children who are terrified of getting a needle in their arm. Who can blame them? Not many adults I know like getting shots.
What I witnessed today was different in one consistent way.
Each time a scared child entered the room, the soothing voices and gentle touches of the nurses were there to help.
Not that it always worked, but I couldn’t help but think about how much worse it could have been if they had not been there.
One particular girl, first grader Lyanni Flores was terrified. While she sat on the lap of Julie Klinedinst, who spoke softly in her ear, Anita Banks stroked her legs and the duo tried to soothe her until Megan McCullin quickly gave her the injection.
As quickly as she began to scream before the shot hit her arm, the experience was over and she left the room with a smile on her face and a tweety bird band-aid on her arm.
This photograph below is the one we will run in the paper and online. I know there will be some people who will quickly look at this image and only see the little girl, terrified and screaming. But me? I saw something else.
Maybe you can too.
Give it time.