Photographers' Blog

Facing tragedy in Colorado

By Shannon Stapleton

I woke on the morning of July 20th happy and looking forward to a great weekend with my son at his last lacrosse tournament of the season.

That feeling of happiness changed quickly when I looked on the phone and it said “Can you get on a plane to Denver as soon as possible, there has been a mass shooting at the screening of Batman with 12 people dead and numerous injured.” My heart started to race and all I could think of was how just five months prior I had responded to the senseless killing of three high school students in Chardon, Ohio. A place close to my heart because it was near where I grew up and had played my last high school football in 1987.

Colorado and the Rocky Mountains have also been a place of very fond memories in my life. I spent the years of 1991 to 1995 there and never forgot the majestic feeling of the mountain lifestyle. I just couldn’t believe this was happening again and especially in the Denver area where I cherished the years spent in the region.

My wife woke and asked what was wrong as I was trying to gather my thoughts, answer emails and figure out the quickest flight out. I said there was a mass killing in Denver and I had to leave as soon as possible. I told her I was sorry because my daughter was supposed to have her first sleep over at our house and I was supposed to take my son to Pennsylvania for his lacrosse tournament. All those plans would have to be scrapped as I frantically tried to book a plane flight out of New York. This is my job – I signed up for this and she knows that. Covering the big assignment is why I became a photojournalist. Explaining to your kids that Daddy has to leave right now is never easy and trying to explain why even harder. I booked a flight, packed my bags and said I love them and would see them in a week.

In my career I have covered my share of death, despair and sorrow. It never gets easier to prepare for mentally. Anybody that says it does is fooling themselves. I knew to expect the sorrow and grief that would emanate through the family, friends and the entire community. But you can’t prepare yourself for the woman who lost her 6 year old niece, the kids who lost a classmate or the overall sorrow that such a tragic event can have on a community. Grief is genuine and not something that can be faked. Capturing the images surrounding such a tragic event is why a photograph is worth a thousand words.

The Tebow phenom

By Rick Wilking

Do a Google search on this new celebrity and there are 299,000,000 results. Brad Pitt? No, he only has 187 million. I’m talking about the newest phenom in the world of sports – Tim Tebow.

Being a Denver-based photographer where Tebow plays starting quarterback for the Broncos has kept me in the vortex of the Tebow storm. Going back to his first start late last season and then training camp in August, we’ve been focusing on his young career. Would he start this year or would he not was the hot topic back in late summer. Kyle Orton was eventually chosen as starter but when the team went 1–4 Tebow got the nod and Orton was out. Then the fun really began.

Tebow was a superstar in college at the University of Florida (first sophomore to win the Heisman Trophy, won not one but two NCAA National Football Championships) but how would he do in the big leagues? He was a first round draft pick in the NFL meaning many had high hopes for him to succeed. But the NFL game is so much different than college there’s no guarantee a player will repeat. Scrambling around on the field can only go so far in the NFL before getting tackled repeatedly by much bigger and faster players will destroy you.
Being a rookie in the league with a great pedigree means extra attention to start with but then add this element: religion. I don’t think a sports writer out there can remember any athlete starting most press conferences with “First and foremost I have to thank my lord and savior, Jesus Christ.”