I told some of my fellow reporters this week that I think I am getting old and mellow.There was a time that drama was everything in a news photo. I ignored that this week. I was at the scene of a house fire at 5:30 in the morning. These things are never happy occasions. But they are dramatic.
A house was burning. The air was thick with smoke. The street was awash in frozen spray and water. Firefighters were shouting above the noise of the engines from several firetrucks. Neighbours were out on the street, wearing parkas, pyjamas and snowboots to see what's going on. I always have my camera ready, holding it inside my parka. It takes only a moment to move it to my eye and snap off five or six photos when I have it in burst mode. I looked up to see paramedics coming toward me from about ten feet away. I realized the ambulance was behind me. The two paramedics were walking either side of a distraught woman. She was wearing only a blanket. Her bare shoulders and bare legs were obvious. It was 33 below zero. The woman was crying and oblivious to everyone, except perhaps the paramedics supporting her. What a picture it was ... or might have been. I didn't raise my camera. I stepped aside and let them pass by. I felt awkward for being there. Twenty years ago, I would have snapped the picture, telling myself this shows the true drama and tragedy of a domestic fire. On Wednesday morning I just felt I was intruding on a terrible day in another person's life.