Throughout Snap Decisions I talk about the evolution of my photography as it related to my maturity as a young man. Early in my career, because I was learning photojournalism on the job without any formal training, I lacked the understanding of journalistic ethics that comes with a college field of study.
Many of my fellow colleagues came to the ADN with an educational background in which they were taught the ethics of journalism. I can point to Erik Hill and Bill Roth who have journalism degrees (Erik has a Masters), who understood the ethics of honesty and understanding towards the subjects in their photos.
At the beginning, I saw chasing police and fire events as a way to capture raw emotion, make great photos, and I had very little consideration towards the people in my photos and what they might be going through.
Jeff Floyd, hugging his wife Terri (right) as they watched their apartment go up in flames in 1985, tried to get me fired for using this photo in the paper. To get his name, I had lied to him about which photo we would probably use. When he saw this one on the front page the next day, he called the assistant managing editor Mike Campbell, who was not happy about the lie.
Mike called me in for a conversation. He told me that when you work in the same town, day after day, year after year, you can’t afford to lose people’s trust. “Their trust is not worth a photograph,” Mike told me.
It was advice I took to heart. As I say in the book: "Very quickly I came to understand the events I photographed changed peoples’ lives. And the people changed me."