This past Wednesday, as I was on my way to Metro Places D'armes, I happen to pass by the fire station where I saw some of the firemen out with their spinning gear. I asked them if I could photograph them since they were already causing quite the scene in the area and had become a tourist attraction in their own right (all those fantasies). Asking them if I could photograph them gives a few perks.
1) It means that I can get closer
2) I don't have to worry about the shyness factor
Something that I always felt about firemen was that their profession was something rather obscure to me. I had never seen an actual fire (thankfully) and the question of putting out a fire was one that was very complicated.
It was not until I read an account about 9/11 that I really came to appreciate their selfless profession. Many of the survivors talked about how, as they were going down the stairs, they met fire fighters, accommodating the distressed tenants of the building by being an authority that could direct them - all while they were on their way up to towards the floor of the crash. To me, this is one of the most selfless and bravest accounts in humanity and perhaps gave me a deeper sense of closeness to their profession.
On this occasion, it was an opportunity for me to thank them for their valour and I did so. Of course, its not alright to overstay your welcome, given the exceptional need for attention required in the task.
As always, I always start with the usual, reading for subtle signs that can strengthen composition. My approach (which I definitely recommend) is to search for a change in different variables in the environment.
In the next iteration, I got closer and got more or less the same expressions but then something happened.
As Robert Capa said, "if your photos are not good enough, you're not close enough". This particular photo brings out a closer perspective (where we get rid of that black chair) but also tells a story beyond good composition.