Informal study of figures at Buffalo fireground
I went to a fire on Floss Ave on Buffalo’s east side where companies reported smoke showing. The OVM hadn’t taken the windows yet when I arrived and thee truck companies were still taking ladders off the rigs. They carried the ladders to their chosen spots so vertical ventilation could be performed. For this job I isolated the truck guys working. There wasn’t any fire showing just lots of smoke. With the hand off of the first ladder, the second ladder hit the roof. The saw was passed to the firefighter assigned for venting. A few holes were cut and the process was quick.
The fireground moves at a fast paste. Isolation or anticipation helps to capture moments. As fellow buff J.J. Cassetta said to me “it’s impossible to cover the whole fire scene because too much is happening at one time. You have to pick an area and stick with it.” Photographing engine work is difficult because they are inside the building. Truckies on the other hand play a role in helping the engine guys out. A sweet sound is the glass breaking or the saw cutting into the wood.
Isolating the truck guys showed me a few things. You can turn a non-visually uncompelling scene into a compelling one. Isolating the subjects was far more effective than attempting to run around the scene trying to force a photo. Lastly photographing the truck companies gave me an isolated look at how the operations of ventilation works and therefore a better understanding of my subject matter.
Photos courtesy of Lloyd Mitchell Photography, used with permission.
Lloyd Mitchell is a freelance photographer whose photos of firefighters at work began as a change of pace. “I started taking photography classes at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden at the age of 15. The camp counselor thought I was good. The rest is history. I have worked with my community newspaper in Brooklyn for the last two summers. During the summer of my sophomore year, I wanted to work on a project different from things I had worked on during the school year. So I started to photograph firefighters. I would take portraits of them after jobs. I would drop the photos off to them. I didn’t expect the project to last two more summers.” “The project has been of fun. I’ve met a lot of amazing and down to earth people. My purpose of the project was I want people to understand what they go through on a daily tour. I have more of an artistic feeling to my images. I want my photos to tell an overall story. I don’t feel scared behind the lens. These people aren’t scared to run into a burning building.” You can follow Lloyd's work here and at his photography website.