Monday, April 06, 2009

Not to be forgotten

"Unable to control her emotions, Rose Smith, Tetso’s grandmother, seeks comfort from her daughter, during a candlelight vigil in memory of Tracey Leigh Gardner-Tetso in Rosedale, Md., Saturday evening. Tracey Leigh Gardner-Tetso has been missing since March 6, 2005 when she was last seen at her residence in Rosedale, Md., before attending a Motley Crue concert."

I tried to come up with the the saying in my own words, but it didn't quite work, so to quote John Tully, "[Sometimes] I'd rather photograph what the 30 other photographers are not, whether that is "decisive" or not because it's infact decisive."

A couple weeks ago I was assigned to cover a candlelight vigil in Rosedale, Md. My editor was telling me it's something that happens every year and the emotion displayed in combination with nice, golden light would probably make a great photo.

The story was like most other vigils, the anniversary of which a tragic event occurred. In this case, the disappearance of Tracey Gardner-Tetso.

Though police found her car in a Glen Burnie parking lot 11 days after she vanished (can people "vanish"? Or do they "disappear"? I think I need a copy editor), her car contained no clues, police said at the time. And still, to this day, no clues have been discovered.

From what I understood, it's certain that Tetso did not willingly disappear, although its been documented in other articles that Tetso had an unhappy marriage and was dating someone new. This would later almost make a connection later at this assignment.

At the assignment, I showed up and introduced myself to the small group of those standing around. I wanted to find out who was family, and who were friends.

Things went according to plan, but Testo's mother warned me to get ready to take pictures if anything shady happened. To understand her, I asked why and what happened.

According to her, Testo's house is still in Testo's name and owned by her and her family, not the widower. So each yeah, the group walks down in front of the house, makes a circle and shares memories of her.

Apparently, in years past, Tetso's widower, tried to run down the group in his truck. This is where I got confused. Why wouldn't the husband join in vigil of remembering his wife? He even called the police during this assignment.

I don't know, and to be honest, I am not really trying to get in that debate.

So I will return to my lead.

I was competing not only with myself to get the one shot that told the story of this gathering, but two videographers from local television stations.

After friends and family gathered, joined hands (and the police showed up), some friends started sharing stories. Obviously they began to get visibly upset. Especially one friend.

I was showing compassion, being respectful and keeping a fair distance. I started to step in to make a frame when both videographers placed their cameras, no lie, six inches from her face.

Disgusted, I dropped my camera to my hip and decided not to make a frame. I instead turned around to capture Tetso’s grandmother seeking comfort from her daughter, Testo's mother.

It may not be the clearest indication, and tears weren't shed, but I'd rather make a frame that isn't the most whether that is "decisive" or not because it's infact decisive.

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