Our minds have a way of protecting us when we are attempting to process something so terrible that we may go into shock. We separate our emotions and begin to deal with the situation immediately in front of us. Some seek safety and family; others spring into action, throwing themselves into immediate and proximate danger without concern for family. How can you comprehend or determine how you would react to a scenario such as the bombing at the Boston Marathon if you only see it from photographs or video? It does not look real, but it is.
Journalism photographers are placed in dangerous situation everyday, and in Boston they were there to cover a celebration. As the moment approached that someone would be filled with exhilaration of crossing the finish line, that joyful, momentous occasion became a warzone.
The video feed showed smoke engulfing stunned bystanders. We saw a runner fall, police and volunteers turning in circles trying to process what their mind had already told them, that something terrible had just happened.
Initially I was numb to the fact that there were people injured, because it just did not look that bad. Late last night I began looking for the raw footage of the photographers I knew were there. Immediately I found what I was seeking: blood, bones, and bodies; too much of it.
My numbness suddenly became guilt because I know what those photographers are going through now. What happened Monday will take years to deal with and some photographers will leave the field of journalism, unable to deal with the tragedy that they witnessed and photographed first hand.
Not every photographer is assigned to cover conflict and violence: some photographers cover social events, others cover community news as it happens such as fires or accidents. I am certain there were all types of photographers, amateur and professional, that took images in Boston during the marathon bombing. I am also certain some of them will want to delete those images out of fear, respect, and/or remorse because they simply do not want to ever see that image again.
I implore you to keep your images, share your experiences and most of all, seek counseling for what you witnessed. It is through your lens that the rest of the world will understand what happened to those who were there. It is through the lens of a photographer that we also see the incredible kindness of those who were willing to help those in need.