Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The mobilization of fate

I’ve gotten an unusual amount of feedback on the tornado photo and the post below. Several friends have wondered why I didn’t mosey on up the road to photograph the mobile home park. After all, I am not a Christian fundamentalist asshole who would exploit the tragedy simply to reel in a few more suckers to fill up the pews and, more importantly, the collection plate. Any work I did would be valid journalism at the very least, and maybe art if I had a good day.

That’s the thing though. In that kind of scene, a good day would most likely be pictures of people grieving, or poignant artifacts of trailer park lives strewn among the devastation. I am capable of that kind of thing. I can stick a camera in the face of someone who doesn’t want to be photographed, or take pictures of the pathetic remnants of their lives, but I have to think it’s worthwhile. In this case, I simple didn’t think it was worthwhile. The event was several days past and it was extremely unlikely that I would get anything that hadn’t been gotten a thousand times before. Over twenty people died. Many lives were ruined. It was not a good day.

And I didn’t give it a lot of thought at the time, but now that I’m looking at the pictures and writing about it, I am content to communicate the message of the trees. These forests were healthy. I’ve seen a lot of tornado damage in my time. That was some fucking tornado. Any little tornado can rip up a trailer park, but you don’t see too many that decimate a healthy stand of trees like that. No, you don’t.

The picture above is a bit more stylized, or if you want to be technical “way over-exposed.” I only offer it as an alternative view.