Friday, October 24, 2008

Patience during sadness

"Maryland State Police Trooper Holloway lowers his head as he stands in line for the viewing at the Gamber and Community Fire Company's Social Hall for Trooper First Class Mickey Lippy, who died in Police medevac crash this past Saturday."

Caveat: Let me preface by saying sorry for the blog being down for 48-hours. As some may or may not have known, my domain was forwarding you here to my blog. But now, as I slowly work on an actual Web site (gasp!), my new permanent blog address will be ( and my Web site address will be ( Thanks!

Some days are just tough - mentally and emotionally. Not to mention they can be photographically challenging, too. But that must be all pushed aside in order to tell the story for the greater good.

Thus was true of photographing a viewing of a fallen member of the Maryland State Police earlier this month.

Three weeks ago, the Maryland State Police grounded its fleet of medical evacuation helicopters following a late-night crash in Prince George's County that killed four people, including the pilot.

The tragedy was deemed as the deadliest accident since the force started flying medevac missions 38 years ago.

Attempting to make an emergency landing then going down in a forest near Andrews Air Force Base, it killed the pilot, two emergency medical workers and one of the two auto accident victims the helicopter had been transporting to Prince George's Hospital Center in Cheverly.

Of the two emergency medical workers killed, one was Tfc. Mickey Lippy, 34, a flight paramedic from Westminster.

The Sun had been covering the accident on the front page for a couple days, and my assignment for one afternoon was to shoot the first viewing of Tfc. Lippy.

Originally, media was granted permission inside of the viewing, so I had to jet home to grab a shirt, tie and pants before heading out to Westminster.

But after getting home, I was informed we would actually not be allowed inside, however, I would need to still attend and make an image of the crowd going in as daily.

Now, this could come off sounding wrong, but making a visual of folks standing around isn't easy when you're trying to put the story in context for readers. It's my job to communicate the sadness and loss.

So after making some overall images of the large congregation of mourners waiting to pass on condolences to the family, I started waiting for some sort of emotion from the crowd.

I captured a couple hugs and comforting images, but I thought this image told the story the best, granted the Maryland State Police was a large part of the story. Hopefully it passed along a sympathetic message to the readers about this terrible loss.

I am saddened by the loss of life and it's never easy to photograph events like these, but that's our job. Hopefully it was meaningful. My heart goes out to all the families, friends who lost someone in this incident.


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