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Even the press are discouraged from RTA's and never allowed to photograh the dead or injured and rightly so.As an ex Local NUJ press photographer I have attended hundreds of such scenes.Even with full accredidation I have met resistance such as you did Andy.It's understandable under the circumstances. By the way,as an amateur you won't get much more than the price of a pint for your photos - not from local paper Editors!.
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A few thoughts - I reckon that would depend on what slant you gave the story. No point using the 'this happened and then that happened' tack - especially so late after the event .. but you know that anyway. It might be worthwhile looking at the wider issues .. one subject can have lots of facets. Do some research. Health & safety / car safety / current state of the emergency services / stress / road conditions / drink driving .. and so on etc etc etc .. but you would need I think to be very careful what you used the pictures to illustrate .. e.g. drink driving especially if no-one involved in the crash had been drinking - the association might land you in trouble, and number plates would need to be obscured - if for no other reason than to keep in mind the feelings of the accident victims and their families.
Articles accompanied by pictures are usually more useful to an editor than those without, but unless the pictures illustrate a valid and useful point they're unlikely to be used.
Just my thoughts .. others with wider experience will no doubt have more useful advice.
I wonder just how useful pictures are without the facts surrounding them are to news editors. Perhaps the reason why local papers pay so little for pictures is that they then have to check the facts and write the story surrounding the pictures.
In another life I might well have tried to become a photojournalist but in all honesty do not have the appropriate skills in writing and, sadly, phtography to be any good.
The incident served to raise some questions related to photography as well as other emotions related to the sad outcome. In fact had the incident been entirely different, perhaps something lighter in nature the base questions would have remained of what can I expect from officialdom that differs from the press pro and what to do with the resulting pictures.
Speaking as on old Pro..accidents are old hat,two a penny these day's,Editors go by body counts...anyway,they would NEVER use the pictures in anycase,perhaps a general scene of the crash...but how big is your crash,a MAJOR one,well,could be news...
We have become 'blase'about death,it's happening all around us-the press have other things to worry about...now how about some 'exclusives' on Beckham-make your fortune overnight.
Gossips sells-death is unimportant unless it's on a grand scale...sleaze is the order of the day amongst newspapers.Great copy!
That's why 'red tops'sell the best..
As a scenes of crime officer and photojournalist for many years, in the London area, it was then, (pre. 1980) the policy to exclude all outside persons from quite a distance to preserve the scene for forensic examination including photography. I am not just referring to serious traffic accidents, but all serious crime scenes.
No two set of circumstances are the same.
It depends on the particular circustances as to whether the press or any other photographers or reporters are permitted to stay near the scene to record the event.
From my own expierience, there has always been an excellent sympathetic understanding of the respective functions of the other professional services, be they Police, Fire, Ambulance or whatever.
However, that is not to say that there are those in these emergency services that are having a 'bad hair day' and seem to try and ensure that any other person in the vicinity has likewise!
Not so sure the fire service is quite as part of the team as they once were. I know, at least locally, that the police and ambulance have a "professional' relationship with the fireservice rather than a close and friendly one. It was only the attitude of the one fireman that was objectionable, the police officer seemed content enough that I was out of the way and reasonable in attitude. But then he would have not bothered to come over if the fireman had not approached him. Preserving a scene and the dignity of the injured is and should be an over-riding factor but a degree of common sense and the acceptance of civil liberties must aslo be a consideration.
If I ever crash my bike or whatever I hope there are others interested enough to find out what has happened and help and not to just pass on and not get involved.
Too right Andy - it's the least anyone can do to stop and see if they can help, especially if first on the scene. However once the emergency services have arrived it's a relief to know one can hand over to them - they will put everything into the fast lane and get the job done. And unless one is a witness or can help in some specific way, it's probably best to move away so they can get on with it. I think it's a fairly natural thing, to hover (I'm not talking about voyeurs! - anyone remember the terrible air crash in Staines a few decades ago when crowds of people turned up from MILES around just to gawp?) - I itch to help in some way and it's hard to walk away if it's all being taken care of - and yes it does feel like turning one's back. But sometimes it's more helpful to do just that, so the emergency services don't have to worry about anyone else's safety, or even immediate access if things take a turn for the worse and they then have to worry about moving people even further away.
Incidentally I've just stumbled across this article HERE in the ephotozine archive about crash photography .. and came back just in time to hit the edit button
So far I've initiated two out of hospital CPR's firstly on a neighbour who collapsed and second on a chap who collapsed in the street. Though I've got qualifications to advanced level in both cardiac and paediatric life support I was very happy when the paramedics arrived, it's incredibly intense dealing with serious emergencies. The chap in the street attracted a lot of onlookers but at least a few of them called the emergency services. Several people however did not stop and walked on ignoring the events before I reached the scene I must admit I find their lack of humanity much more disturbing than the onlookers. If someone had been in my face with a camera the immediate emotive nature of the event might well resulted in thier injury but someone out of the way just recording an event, a moment of human crisis would, to my mind, have been no different than the other onlookers.
Is this a private fight or can anyone join in???!!!
If you want get shots of emergency services at work maybe you should just try stuff like crop fires and cats up trees where nobody can get offended (apart from some extreme animal rights activists....hang on theres a good idea, follow a fox hunt around and take photos of the nutters who try and wreck them, topical and bound to be a money spinner!!!)
Trust me car crashes are a messy business, the path lab I work in gets the victims deleivered in plastic bags and cool boxes, not nice on a monday morning!!!!!!
In general try other topical local issues to make money, nobody will judge you then!!!
Without commenting on the ethics involved, I know many instances where the police would be extremely grateful for any photographic evidence which may be made available to them whether provided by professional or amateur sources.
Is this a private fight or can anyone join in???
Its only a lively discussion which strayed off the point a bit but no where near a fight.
In this incident the police had a helicopter overhead, it would have been have been recording the scene. I work in an A&E and have since talked with the paramedic crew who attended. As to taking pictures they did not care. They knew about the chap on the other side of the scene with the long lenses, whos pictures did appear in the local rag and even one of the bus occupants who was using a small video cam from the side of the scene. It does not bother them (the Paramedics) unless the photographer is either getting in the way or not helping if appropriate. When however I mentioned the response of the fireman they were able to make a guess at which one it had been and it seems to be just a case of his personality type and ego.
In general try other topical local issues to make money, nobody will judge you then!!
This smacks of censorship (only kidding)
When something happens close to home it seems natural to take an interest and also having an interest in photography grabbing a camera is almost instinctive.
I am totally in agreement with your viewpoint.
If an 'incident' is taking place and you have the facility to record it then why not?
Remember the 'Zapruder' cine-film on the JFK assassination?
This guy was taking what he thought was an ordinary sequence of events but later the film proved to be a the only 'close-up' recorded version of what actually happened.
Where were the 'professionals' then?
What of the car's occupant(s)? As a photographer and a first aider - showing compassion would come well in ahead of any personal interest. If an accident is damage only, I might offer to record the scene so the individuals concerned have a better record for their insurance company. If there are people injured, then keeping the scene clean for the accident investigators and offering reassurance to anyone affected by what's going on would be the priority.
There's a time and a place.
Unless specifically asked to, I wouldn't even consider photographing a scene where there was human distress/trauma.
Over twenty years ago, I was asked, as an amateur, to cover an area around my home - about 400 square miles - for the Nottingham Evening Post. I did this for five years before I felt I'd had enough. They paid expenses and, when I finished, I was getting about ten pounds per pic.
I never had any trouble with the police and, on one occasion, when looking for an escaped murderer, I was taken around in a police car.
By then I was known but even earlier, I had no problems. And I had no NUJ card.
In these days of digital, it's easier. I often had a 50 mile trip to deliver prints.
If you send on spec., tell a paper you are expecting payment. Some of the small papers are terrible. Tell them you have an idea for a pic. and they'll be interested enough to send a staff man.
Surely there's no harm in taking a 'record' shot of emergency services at work.
I can see no problem given the proviso that one is not intrusive or takes close-ups of the injured.
What is the difference between an RTA and someone being rescued from a say a cliff fall, mountain rescue or helicopter rescue at sea.
They are all there to record, it's just how you go about it that's important.
On holiday this year in Austria one unfortunate soul broke his leg some distance up the mountain.
I took a few general shots of the rescue operation and onlookers from some distance away, mainly because they had an unusual powered sled/stretcher arrangement to carry the skier.
Would this be termed 'voyeurism'?
To me it is just a holiday incident that I was able to record.
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