Photographing Natural Disasters like Irene
Here are a few thoughts I have on photographing disaster areas, as I did recently in Vermont photographing the aftermath of tropical storm Irene.
1. Be mindful of the people who were affected by the storm. I witnessed a lot of people working hard to clean out their basements, remove inches of silt from their driveways and roads and simply dealing with the lack of electricity and thoughts of lost business with leaf peeping and skiing season right around the corner. Don't act like a rude tourist, be respectful of the situation.
2. Don't get in the way of emergency vehicles and work crews. The last thing they need is some fool getting hurt trying to take a picture or parking in front of a bulldozer. Keep in mind that workers are trying to salvage roads, buildings and restore power. Respect barriers and police lines placed for the safety of everyone. Just because the rain as stopped doesn't mean everything is safe and stable.
3. Some photography advice - shoot lots of details. The grand destruction photos have already been in the paper and on the news. Zoom in on details relating to "floods", "flooding" etc that can be used for stock to illustrate similar disasters and in articles or ads for things like insurance.
4. Head out early to get the best light and to avoid people blocking your shots.
5. Bring a map! Many of the roads in Vermont were closed, washed out or both. You might have to find alternative routes to your subject.
6. Be safe! Local officials are recommending wearing masks if you are around the dust caused by silt. Its just a precaution but who knows what bacteria or harmful chemicals could be in the dust.
7. Upload your images as editorial and put in a note to the reviewer as to the timeliness of the images. Otherwise you can capture RF images that can be used to illustrate flood damage.
Photo credits: , Peanutroaster.