Two years ago I took an image that I consider my “most important photograph.” Even though I consider it my most important, it was not the best picture taken with my camera that day. While I consider photography important, I did something more important than take pictures that day. I handed my camera to a boy while we walked on a bridge.
Two years ago, I wrote about Xander’s Crossing. The bridge connects me to a support group for mothers whose children have died. After my father had committed suicide, I chose to help people who were isolated, and somehow I found myself on this bridge two years ago.
I was also a journalism educator. I knew that journalists were taught to keep their distance when covering stories. I also knew that some training conflicted with the goals of journalism. First, journalists who “kept their distance” were most often the same journalists who invaded families’ personal space.… Read the rest
As with all important projects, this one began before it started. The work will continue after I have finished.
I am merely one person on the bridge.
Before I started photographing the families who belong to a Central Valley support group, I heard about the death of a young child that led to the Blossom Hill Pedestrian Bridge being built in San Jose. (I would later meet Xander’s mother.) In 2005, my wife and I were listening to the news. My father had died recently. My daughter was young and my wife might have been pregnant with my son. We changed the station hoping to erase the story, but we always remembered.
Another accident led to my involvement with the group. This time I knew the parent. Now I am friends with both parents whose children died. Having been a member of a suicide survivors support group, I knew that I could not simply turn off the newscast and make reality disappear, but I have been surprised that I could find comfort by helping other people.… Read the rest
I knew about Nicole Wilson and her family before I met her or the Mother’s of an Angel Friendship Network. My wife and I heard a news report that we turned off, but we never forgot. I wondered how a family would ever move forward. I still wonder. My first child was almost the same age as Xander at the time and my wife was pregnant with our second child. Many families hear the story and wonder what we could do to help. The must be something we can do. Perhaps Xander’s Crossing will help families so that they never experience this.
Nicole and her family have also helped me learn a great deal about loss and healing. This first image illustrates how journalists can show tragedy from a different perspective. I am handing the camera to Nicole’s son so that he can photograph the journalists and other people at the event. I am still processing images and emotions… please feel free to provide comments, perspectives and condolences.… Read the rest