Monday, May 23, 2005

On Assignment: Cowlitz Co., Washington-Day Four

"River's Edge" by Wes Aldridge

I bagged this shot while I was doing a portrait of a sea kayaker on the Columbia River. I was waiting for her to get her kayak in the water and needed a minute or two to clear my mind. The sun hid behind the clouds for a few moments and cooled the color temperture of the water in the shot. I'm glad I found this short time to chill out a little bit.

I had just come from a hospital that I was shooting a special advertising spread for the magazine. I had been at the hospital for over four hours. If you don't know, making shots in a hospital interesting and not too graphic isn't an easy task by any means. Today was my lucky day and I had set up and executed 7 of the 8 shots I needed for this particular spread. I knew the last shot would be the most difficult because it needed to be an emergency room in action.

I shot several different style shots for this one, but I wasn't feeling any of them too strongly yet. A PR guy from the hospital was escorting me throughout this assignment. He asked one of the doctors if we could shot some shots of him consulting with a patient in an exam room. He agreed and I went into the room and started popping shots, kneeling at the foot of the hospital bed. Then came the bombshell from Hell. The patient said he had pain in his lungs and thought it was pneumonia. The doctor, without skipping a beat, said, "I am going to be honest here, I think you might have lung cancer."

I lowered the camera and my eyes widened as I swallowed hard, thinking "for the love of God. This is great." The man looked down at the ground and his wife, who was sitting about three feet to my left, burst into hysterical crying. I couldn't believe the situation that I was crammed in the middle of. I just wanted to get out of there, so I did. I felt like a total piece of trash for shooting those shots while the poor guy was being told he probably had a terminal disease. But, what could I have done and how could I have known? I couldn't and I know that, it was just tough to let this one roll off my shoulder.