It’s been a few years since I’ve covered the Passion March in Pilsen. Every year that I’ve covered it previously it’s been a circus of photographers. It is still.
Besides every TV station in town sending a crew, you get every newspaper that can justify sending a photographer sending one, plus every college photojournalism class in 10 miles sending half of their photographers. This means you get about 30 photographers of all stripes.
I have no love for photo scrums. They’re not fun. They involve photographers climbing over each like a pack over a downed buffalo. They generally make the media look bad, if you ask me. And you get a few people not following the rules, which I think makes the lot of us look bad.
That’s what can really bother me. I don’t mind when photographers climb over each other so much at political events. That’s just the way it’s supposed to be, but at spirtual events it just doesn’t feel right. We all got jobs to do, but at some point you also just need to be respectful of others and the community.
At the Passion March the organizers ask the press to be out of the ring of the participants at a certain point. As is a habit of the press, they stayed till that point, and then beyond. I’ve got no problem pushing limits when necessary. I just don’t feel this is a situation where that behavior is appropriate.
Ultimately members of the press must weigh the needs of their jobs, the needs of informing the community, but they also must weigh the needs of respecting those participating. This, to me, is especially true when people are practicing their faith. While for me, and the other photographers, this may be another assignment we have to do, for the people participating, this is a religious observation. At some point I just think there is a way to be respectful of people practicing their religious beliefs while also creating the necessary images.
As a further example, and on a humorous note, every Chicagoland photographer has a picture of the Passion March from the El tracks over 18th street. We all shot from there at one point or another. I was coming down from the tracks, and chit chatting with another photographer. As we reentered the mass of people following the march he got ready to start darting ahead. As he was leaving he said to me, “I’ll see you at the hanging.” Now it’s normal enough to say something similar to that, but he could both find a better way to phrase, any other way to phrase it, and know what the proper terminology is. Hanging is just, wrong.
There are many fine members of the press, as with all professions, there are less skilled members, and we all have days where we just say the wrong thing. Still it deflates a person a little.