This was a spectacular fire in Anchorage’s Midtown in September 2003. When a gas main ruptured during construction work near the Sears Mall, firefighters called in a backhoe operator to help snuff the inferno.
It was a fire I didn’t need to feel guilty about photographing. There was little chance of property damage and few people put at risk, just big flames and visual drama.
If fireballs and towering flames made for obvious eye-grabbing images, the quiet, sometimes hidden
moments of an emergency scene many times offered a more poignant and telling story for our readers.
Sometimes, it was as simple as turning around and looking behind me.
Anchorage fire Captain Mike Dunn (right) said a prayer of thanks after he and other firefighters saved Leslie DeRego, Jr. from being buried alive. ‘’The majority of people who are buried don’t make it,” said Dunn, who helped dig DeRego out. ‘’But miracles do happen, and this proves it.’’
Here's pages 30-31 of Snap Decisions. This is another example of the News chapter in my book. The portrait on the right is one of my favorites. A grab shot, I caught as Anchorage Fire Captain Jim Kenshalo left a smoking building.
Over the years Kenshalo and I became friendly and, as a Captain, had the authority to hoist me up on the aerial ladder to take photos overlooking a fire scene.
The photo of my Girdwood friend Gary Young was shot at a house fire behind the apartment where I was living at the time. The hard flash and black & white image made me think of those 1940's street photos taken by New York City photographer Arthur Fellig, aka Weegee. (Check out his book Naked City sometime...)
Here's the first themed two-page spread to give you a look at the interior pages of Snap Decisions. As I mentioned before, I wanted to create something more than just a book of pictures with a picture title.
Instead I decided to give readers the back story to each photo: what the assignment was, how I got the photo, what was happening in Alaska at the time, etc. Each two-page spread has a theme, the photos take the stage as the strongest elements on the page, but the words are important too.
These two pages talk about an episode in which my First Amendment rights came under fire, a day where I almost got arrested.