Welcome to the world of wildfire photography, a profession filled with furnace-hot temperatures, heart-stopping moments and opportunities to help others and show the world the intensity of the 21st-century wildfires tearing across California's landscape a
Award-winning wildfire photographer Matthew Henderson turns his camera toward the devastation of the Kincade Fire.
Rotting corpses, starving babies, burned-out villages. Those aren’t the kinds of images kids at San Anselmo’s Sir Francis Drake High School usually see when they crowd into the gym for an assembly.
But they got an eyeful one recent morning when Mark Brecke, a resourceful San Francisco photographer who’s spent a decade documenting mass murder and ethnic cleansing, served up a sobering tutorial on genocide. He showed slides from the decimated Darfur region of Sudan, where he lived for five weeks with roving rebels of the Sudanese Liberation Army, and from the camps in neighboring Chad, where survivors find refuge from the slaughter and forced starvation that has killed more than 400,000 people since 2003.
“These images are not easy to take, that’s for sure,” said Brecke, a soft-spoken, fair-haired man in his late 30s, showing a picture of a partially decomposed body lying in the dirt. “But they’re necessary. Because you are witnessing a mass crime scene, if you want to call it that.”
But Modica wasn’t the only one assigned to the story. The much more prominent full-page intro has the following photo illustration:
This use of photography brings the medium down to the lowest common denominator. What is the point? If anything it pushes me away from reading the story. I understand that weekly news magazines are under huge deadlines and need to fill the pages. But do we need so much photo-filler? The photographs in another weekly, The New Yorker, are exceptionally powerful because of their restraint. What if Modica’s image was the only one used in the story? Wouldn’t it be so much better?