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.