Down in Green River for another assignment when the phone rings. A plane went down not far away, at the airport north of Moab. All nine passengers and the pilot dead. Raced over to find the scene closed while bodies were removed.
Back to Green River for the original assignment, then a shot of the Bandidos in Moab and, once the bodies were removed, we were finally able to document the scene. Trib reporter Christopher Smart braved a couple of crazy bumpy sandy washes in his 4×4 and we made it in (photo below taken one-handed as we bounced around). Hopefully his vehicle wasn’t too trashed from the trail. Our mileage reimbursement probably won’t cover this kind of abuse.
Maybe it was the rush of getting over there and juggling two other shots, but it wasn’t until I was telling someone about it the next day it hit me. Ten dead.
Moab – Ten people were killed when a 1975 Beechcraft King Air A-100 plane crashed about 2 miles from Canyonlands Field airport. They worked for Southwest Skin and Cancer/Red Canyon Aesthetics & Medical Spa.
As a young photographer I remember looking up to the guys working at the big papers and imagining how exciting their jobs must be. I was right, the big paper job is much more exciting than the little paper job. But not like you’d imagine in some photojournalism fantasy, where we’re shooting black and white contest-winning documentary essays of the poor and afflicted for weeks on end. The job is mostly quick-hit bread and butter assignments, peppered with those occasional exciting assignments that you dreaming of.
My assignments Wednesday were nothing to dream of. The day was a perfect example of what the job really is— Three assignments that took me all over, on a timeframe that forced me to find a usable, if not great, photograph quickly. Here’s the day, approximated from memory.
– Show up at work to pick up lighting kit for my first assignment, a portrait of a high school quarterback in Logan.
– Start driving north.
– Quick lunch at Bajio in Centerville.
– Arrive in Logan.
– Scout the location.
– Twenty minute skateboard session at the Logan Skate Park (basically my lunch break).
– Photograph QB Jeff Manning throwing passes in practice drills (16 minutes of photography).
– Portrait of QB Jeff Manning with strobe kit (2 minutes of photography). This portrait session was made during the team’s five minute water break, forcing Manning to forgo any thirst-quenching.
– Drive south.
– Gas for the car, chocolate for me.
– Photograph northbound commute traffic on I-15 from 6th North overpass (10 minutes of photography).
– Edit and send traffic photos from my car.
– Drive south.
– Arrive in Copperton for last assignment.
– Photograph Apollo Pazell addressing the town council (This happened fast. Just one minute of photography).
– Edit and send Pazell photos from car.
– Arrive home with 15 minutes left on shift.
– Realize I haven’t edited the quarterback photos.
– Edit and send quarterback photos.
– Off duty with three minutes to spare.
Total miles driven: 236
Total shift time: 8.5 hours
Total time spent photographing: 29 minutes
Total time spent in the car: Don’t want to think about it.
So there you go. One day in August working for the big paper. That’s often how the job is. Three assignments that, while not thrilling, are important. You get what you can and you move on to the next. The real magic of the job is that tomorrow’s another day. Everything resets and you never know where or what your next shoot will be.
Kristin Kimber, whose ex-husband Brandon was one of three killed rescuers in the Crandall Canyon Mine rescue attempt, leads the release of 2,000 balloons on the one-year anniversary of an implosion that killed three rescuers and injured six others trying to reach six trapped miners.
For the thirty minutes leading up to this balloon release, I circled the crowd trying to find the best angle. The balloons looked best backlit, but the sun was very low and it didn’t look workable. I ended up on the stage as Kimber made an emotional speech and then led the crowd in the release. I help down the shutter as everything went nuts, not knowing what I was getting. Ten seconds later it was all over.
I looked down and Kimber was embracing Wende Jacobson as the balloons vanished into the sky: