By Jim Bourg
When reports of “shots fired” came in from multiple locations on Washington’s Capitol Hill on October 3, I dispatched Reuters Washington photographers in force, with four staff photographers and two contract photographers racing towards the scene within minutes of the shots being fired. Early on it was unclear how big the incident was and whether the Capitol was in fact under attack, and we were taking no chances if this might become a huge world news event. But in this day of ever present camera phones, and with so many members of the public carrying cameras, unless a news photographer is lucky enough to be right on the scene when spot news happens, there is always someone else who was there shooting pictures first.
Staff photographer Larry Downing was one of the first Reuters photographers on the scene at the Capitol Hill shooting. While Larry was shooting pictures, and as I remotely edited his pictures from the Reuters Washington bureau over a cellular data card connected to his laptop, a young freelance photographer named Alexander Morozov walked up and started asking questions, expressing his interest in becoming a professional news photographer.
Larry responded to him by saying “the only way you could become a professional photographer today is if you have a picture of a body or a helicopter over the Capitol dome. Do you have that?”
“Yes!” responded Alexander.
“Yes, what?” asked Larry.
“Yes I have the helicopter” Alexander said.
After looking at the picture on the back of Alexander’s camera, Larry said “let me call my boss” and immediately dialed me on his cell phone. After Alexander and I negotiated a deal for Reuters to buy his picture Larry turned to Andrew, congratulated him and said “You’re going to be a published news photographer today.” It was a picture from the scene that Reuters was happy to have and publish.