These days, everyone has a camera, wherever he or she is.
The camera we all carry is, as we know, inside of our cellphones. I would estimate that out of the modern world’s population, most everybody has a cellphone, and a very high proportion of those people will have a cellphone that is man enough to include a camera.
Gone are the days when carrying a camera meant packing heavy lenses and camera bodies into a shoulder bag!
My point is that just having a camera to hand can have very important repercussions, and quite possibly, write that particular occurence into history.
An example of that could well be what happened to me once when I was a student in London, UK. I had just got onto my bicycle after finishing university and was calmly trundling down a road, when all of a sudden, I saw a car mount the sidewalk, smashing into a shop front with a huge bang.
At that time, I didn’t know what had happened…I honestly assumed he car had gone out of control….however, within seconds it was obvious what was going on, as I saw 2 men, heavily masked, rush out of the car and into the shop. I had stopped some 50 yards away and stood watching the event with some other people who had also seen the incident. Within seconds, we saw the men rush out again, and run down the road into a side street, where I assumed they had another getaway car waiting, for I heard the screech of tires.
Then minutes after the men had made their getaway, 2 police cars came rushing down the road, past where we were standing, stopping near the now-smashed shop, he policemen entering the shop quickly. I waited a while, just talking to the others who were watching, and it occurred to me that I should take a few shots of the scene with my camera, an old Olympus Trip that I always carried. I walked over to my bicycle, pulled the camera out of my bag, and proceeded to take a few shots, whereupon one of the policemen asked me what I was doing. I gave him a story about being a reporter for my university newspaper, for which these photos were going to be used….that satisfied him and he actually asked me to take as many shots as I wanted quickly, as the garage people would be coming soon to tow the car away.
Cut a long story short, I had the film developed within the hour and called my local newspaper about the robbery, saying I had a few shots of the scene very soon after it happened, and would they like to print it….they agreed and my shots appeared on that week’s edition! No payment was made, but I had the pleasure of my name appearing underneath the shot!
So what I mean is, because I had a camera, that little incident got recorded into the newspaper. If I hadn’t been there, by the time the newspaper managed to get their reporter there, the car would have been towed away, and the newspaper would only have been able to report the incident in words, no pictures.
Another very poignant time when the camera of a journalist captured an image that was shown the world over, was during the troubles in Northern Ireland in the 80s.
It is said that father Reid tried to revive the 2 soldiers who had already been horrifically beaten up and then shot, by administering the kiss of life, but when it failed, he gave the soldiers the Last Rites, blood of the soldiers still on his own lips.
Aside of getting involved in the politics of the region, the point is that again, had someone with a camera not been there, Father Reid’s consummate goodness would not have reached the world’s people.
Who knows what images will be carried by media in the future, now that everyone has a camera at their disposal?
Like someone once said, the camera never lies…I would go one further to say the camera can make history come alive…
PS Father Alec Reid died this Friday in Dublin, Ireland, aged 82.