Once a Hero - always a Hero: Rifles and Cameras

Facebook, eh? You have to love it, don't you?
Someone branded it "The New Testosterone - where EVERYONE grows a pair of balls!" it can cause problems for some, an excellent marketing tool for others and allows you to keep in touch with your friends (both real and cyber) anywhere in the World - from anywhere in the World.
If you're like me, you'll find yourself with people adding you, through your friends, who you've never met but share one or two similar interests and it's one of those 'friends' that I'd like to discuss today:
Let's call him 'John' as the conversation I'm about to reveal was a private one and I know he won't want the praise which, in my opinion, he deserves for his actions.
John and I became 'Facebook Friends' through some mutual ex-forces contacts and a shared love of photography. He had recently set up a home studio to let him work on his portraiture techniques and is pretty good with a camera. Over time, we've shared experiences and discussed a variety of photography topics, but NOTHING prepared me for the conversation we had at the end of March this year.
It was a Saturday night and I returned home late (after midnight) from shooting an armed forces event, surrounded by veterans of WW2, Northern Ireland, Falklands, Iraq, Afghanistan and more.
As I was downloading my cards, I casually switched on Facebook to see what the world had been up to and a message popped up from John. What you are about to read may be quite upsetting, I certainly found it to be so. I hope you don't mind, but I'll just copy the text as it came in?

"Hi Kev
Got to get this off my chest....Today started off as one of the happiest days of my life with my granddaughter born. 

I went into the hospital with all my camera gear, flash, triggers etc, I took around 100 pictures of my granddaughter. 

My daughters friend was also in there and she knows I take photo's for friends and family. She called me to one side and asked me if I would take some photo's of her son. 

Thing is Kev he was still born and was born over 24 hrs before and was still in a side ward with her because she wouldn't let him go, She phoned half dozen photographers and asked if they would do it and they all turned her down, she was left with Just mobile phone pictures and crying her heart out, so I did it for her. 

I’ve seen plenty of dead bodies in my time even a headless one but I've never seen a dead baby like this, that was going black in such a short time. 

I have to edit them and I had to stop tonight because it was playing on my mind, no wonder photographers refused to do it but I just couldn't see this young mum and dad so upset, not only with the death of their baby but no one wanting to work for them with such a gruesome task. 

Maybe I wouldn't have felt so bad if it wasn't for the fact I went back to the ward and sat holding my new born granddaughter.
Tomorrow I will be handing over the disk to them.
I just hope I’ve done the right thing but they were shaking my hand, she squeezed and kissed me and kept thanking me. So let’s hope I did the right thing?

Sorry for the dribble mate but I needed to talk to someone who I hopes understands why I did it."

As I thought about my two beautiful daughters, asleep upstairs, I replied through a sea of tears. I thought of my favourite photo I've ever taken when my eldest daughter was only 30 minutes old, which looks as though she's staring right at her mother (technically, not the best shot in the world, but it's my favourite) One thing stuck in my mind - SIX professional photographers had refused to do this shoot! Now, I'm not going to be all 'high and mighty' about it - I can understand why they wouldn't want to. However, when you think, for just a second, about how that young couple felt at losing their wee boy and the fact that NO-ONE would take a proper photograph for them to remember him by - what would you do?
I'd like to think that I could/ would display the courage which John did - but I can't say for definite: no-one can unless we're put in that situation (and I pray that none of us are).
Here we have an amateur photographer, who stepped up to the mark - a man who has seen death, but through his experiences in the forces he learned to deal with it and yet nothing prepared him for that day. He provided that young couple with memories which they will cherish forever - and in doing so, he has taken on the weight of those images forever etched into his memory (I know for a fact, they still weigh on his mind). He swapped his rifle for a camera and displayed the strength of character for which our forces are legendary.

As this is a photography blog, I'm sure someone out there is asking "What does this really have to do with photography?" Well, I'm asking you, today, to stop and think about just what exactly makes a photographer - is it the one who sees nothing but profit from an image? the one who enjoys nothing more than enjoying taking snaps of their family on a day out? Or the one who helps those who never will? Whatever your view, I'd like you to do this:
Pick up a camera - right now - today - (ANY camera - your phone, a compact or a £5000 DSLR - it doesn't matter!) and capture a shot of those you love. Do the same again tomorrow - and every single chance you get! Share them! Post them on Facebook, post them on here, email them to your friends and just share them, make a blog, print them off and put them on your fridge! Anything - just shoot them and let them know how much they mean to you.

To 'John' - a photographer, a friend, a Hero.   


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