Bettina Hansen

photojournalism in musing and pictures

Difficult subjects

with 4 comments

Last night I got called out to a scene where a little boy had been mauled by a neighbor’s dogs. The four-year-old died at the hospital and the community is very small and tight knit.

It’s never a pleasure to go to those sorts of things, because you never know what you’re going to walk in to. But I always try to approach the situation with compassion and respect. The reporter I met with on the scene did the same, and is one of the nicest guys on staff. Young and very easy to talk to. The way that the friends of the family treated us was the worst I had ever encountered.

There were probably about twenty people grieving outside the hospital. We tried talking to people out there in every way we knew how. People were saying things like “Oh we just hate the media.” “We know you’re doing your job but you have no business here.”

I had several people get up in my face so close I’m sure they could see every pore. One lady screamed at me so much that another guy had to hold her back. She was threatening to sue me for trespassing, but I told her that was impossible on public property. In the end, I only shot maybe, 20 frames. Walked away with something usable without names. I never was obtrusive and neither was the reporter, but we were harassed anyway.

I wanted to tell those people, “Don’t scream at me! I’m here because I care about recording the history of this town! Would you rather be forgotten?” They act like we only show up when something tragic happens. I was in the same town earlier this week photographing stained glass, the fireman feature and the fishing picture. History is not just easter egg hunts and cute puppies. It shouldn’t reflect just the happy pictures. If there is one thing that this newspaper is good at, it’s putting plenty of good news in with the bad. To just spout off with “I hate the Media!” is ignorant and rude. Without us, there wouldn’t be history. And trust us, we don’t want to be at a hospital on a Friday night either.

Alright, that’s my love letter to journalism for the day.

Here are two frames from the story. The top one ran.




Written by bettinahansen

April 11, 2009 at 11:16 pm

Posted in bettina hansen

4 Responses

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  1. Bettina,

    I’m sorry you had to go through the experience to get the photos. I’m happy you stood your ground and completed the job. Your right though any news is good news and because of you, this moment is recorded in history and maybe one day those parents and that community will respect the story and photo’s recorded so that they could remember the life story of their child.

    Jeffrey Lowman

    April 12, 2009 at 3:27 pm

  2. Well because of the circumstances of this story, it’s hard to not put myself in their shoes. I too would be incredibly offended by your journalistic inquiries during this delicate situation. However, I understand this dilemma that you face on a daily basis – it is your job to report the news as you see it, when you see it…no matter how glorious, heart wrenching, or gruesome it may be. Please be forgiving…no one can truly understand tragedy until it strikes, especially when children are involved. My heart goes out to this family.

    Mariel Hansen

    April 13, 2009 at 4:40 am

  3. Don’t take it to heart. People are irrational when tragedy strikes. One of the reasons you’re a great photographer is because you take each assignment to heart and you treat it as your own, with respect and dignity. They just didn’t see those things because they were hurt and they took it out on you. Just keep on keeping on and you’ll be great. No worries mate. Your work is important and don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.


    April 13, 2009 at 5:20 am

  4. The comments should make you feel better.


    April 18, 2009 at 7:52 pm

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