Haunted by Polar Bear and NY Subway Doomed Man

There is still a lot of buzz on Linkedin about the role the photographer played in the NYC subway story, about the doomed man on the tracks. What do you do? Photograph, or save a life?

Here is the link to the story:


Reading the LinkedIn discussions gave me faith in mankind. I can only hope that if I need help someday one of these contributors is close by.

But… what does that have to do with a Polar Bear? Well, some time ago, while watching the polar bears swim in a pool at a zoo in St Paul, MN. (zoo now renovated to ensure safety) a women turned to me and said:

“What would you do if your daughter fell in? Would you jump right into the tank to rescue her? I would.”

This question has bothered me an entire lifetime. I had actually forgotten about it- until this story and image appeared on the cover of the New York Post. What does one do when faced with a horrible decision? As a photographer, I too was holding a camera while  holding onto my daughter-who was standing on a fence overlooking the bears-when I was asked this question. At the time, I was really angry that she even posed such a dreadful scenario. “Of course I’d jump in,” I said as I thought long and hard about being eaten by a polar bear. I wanted to scream at her for putting me on the spot. What a terrible decision to have to make.

This photographer probably acted on his instincts to just shoot. He will no doubt be haunted by the image-not only by the money he made from it but more so the reactions it brought.  I personally find it in poor taste on the part of the NY Post, and I sympathize with the photographer for being in that wrong place at that wrong time – even if he was looking for a story. The question I now ask myself, “Why didn’t he jump into the polar bear tank?” I think I know the answer.

Polar Bear & NY Subway Doomed Man


About alwaysgail photography by Gail Fischer

I am a photographer who loves to explore everywhere and everything. The journey began in Covington, KY where all the back alleys were sources of great places of visual imagery. After college the desert outside of Tucson, AZ became my place to watch sunsets and seek solitude. Later, NYC was totally exciting and the years there led to a career as a shooter.
This entry was posted in Animals, food for thought, memories, News stories, People and Places and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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