I’ve always said that photojournalists who work in the press should create a blog for anecdotes, because our job is a massive provider: funny, sad, disappointing, euphoric…
The one I’m going to explain here can be classified in the disappointing ones, because at the end the photos won’t be published in the media. Publishing them in the blog is a way of comforting myself, it comes with the territory…
It was the night of the 5th January and, according to the Spanish tradition, the Three Kings had come to town. It’s about quarter past nine at night, and I’m coming back home from taking photos of my niece’s sons –two and eight years-, I’m feeling happy because I was able to take some good pictures of the little one with the Kings: Caspar shook his hand, Melchior caressed his cheek and Balthazar affectionately pinched his nose. We’ve been lucky, it isn’t easy that among so many children the Kings pay attention to a particular one, but it doesn’t surprise me, his face was a poem of emotion and devotion, sparkling pupils and wide-opened eyes. I’m driving and the journey seems shorter when I remember the excitement of both in this magic night.
I’m already in the Meridiana, I’m driving behind a patrol car of the Mossos d’Esquadra. Suddenly, it turns on the lights and hits the gas. I don’t give it more thought and continue my way. Two minutes later, two patrols from the Guardia Urbana, a car from the secret police and another from the Mossos d’Esquadra pass me at full speed and with the siren on. “Something’s happened”, I think, and without hesitating any longer, I go after them. When I’m close to the junction with Mallorca Street, an argument quickly starts in my mind: “…you are on holidays and you have tons of thing to do at home… prepare everything for tomorrow, Kings’ day… you don’t know where they’re going… maybe to the other end of the city… you’re tired…”. The traffic light is red. I’ve lost the track of the police cars. End of discussion: I’m going home. I turn in Mallorca Street, but curiosity is stronger than me and in every corner I slow down in case the siren lights appear again. Bingo! A patrol car from the Guardia Urbana appears in the crossing between Cartagena and Valencia Street and automatically all my personal duties go down the drain in the blink of an eye. I turn around in the next street and park the car.
I bump into Gemma, a colleague who explains me that two armed individuals have gone into the supermarket Mercadona just before it close to get the earnings of the day. «I’ve done the photography of a worker wounded in the arm, but I’ve done it with my phone and it hasn’t much quality…» she tells me, «it doesn’t matter» I answer, and I think for myself that it is great compared to some “pearls” that sometimes are published in prestigious press, done with a good phone or camera but by someone that hasn’t any notion of photography.
I call the newspaper to explain what happened and see if it can still be in the publication of the following day. The edition is closed, at most, the photo can be publish the day after that. I tell so to Gemma –she works in another section of the Grupo Godó– and I give her the indications to send the pictures to the database of “La Vanguardia”.
We are the only photojournalists in the place, there’s no TVs or radios: an exclusive!
After sending the photo to the newspaper Gemma leaves, she is on holiday, like me, and she’s already late for dinner. They’ve closed the doors of the underground parking. The main door is half-closed. Police and emergency services keep coming in and out. I make a couple of photos, but I know they’re going nowhere.
The information is confusing at first, but little by little the neighbours start to approach me and explain some details: that the robbers came in dressed as Santa Claus, that in the beginning it was said that the weapons were of blank cartridge, but a costumer claimed that at least one of them was an air gun; that the security guard had been shot in his side, that a worker had been wounded in the arm –Gemma’s photo-, that one of the robbers had escaped in a motorbike parked in front of the supermarket, maybe with the loot; that the other robber had been subdued by the workers and the Guardia Urbana and was still inside the establishment, wounded…
Meanwhile one of the workers comes out and nervously lights a cigarette while saying to a police officer that when a weapon in pointing at you, the last thing that you do is start wondering whether it is for blank cartridge or not, and that it has been a bad experience. Another neighbour tells me that for a moment it seemed there would be a massacre. Gemma had also said that the clients coming out of the supermarket had the terror drawn in their faces.
There’s movement in the entrance, they’re bringing a wounded man in a stretcher: is one of the robbers, they put him in the ambulance. «Now I do have material to publish» I think «all this lost time hasn’t been for nothing». I call to the newspaper again in case there’s the possibility of publishing it in the second or third edition. Again, their answer is that the edition is closed. Well, that gives me time to investigate a little bit more to inform the editor the following day. I don’t have to hurry to send the photo.
I ask the mossos and the police officers who is in charge; I want to ask permission to go into the building. The person in charge of the communication in Mercadona comes, I ask permission to go into the supermarket, I argue everything that is arguable. Permission denied. Now I see that I won’t get anything better than what I already have and I decide to go back home. It’s more than eleven o’clock. I lift anchor.
I get home. First, I have dinner –I’m starving-, then I edit and send the photos to the newspaper, it’s almost 1am. Mission accomplished.
The disappointment will come the following day when I find out that the photo won’t be published. A question stalks and soars in the air: if televisions had images and the information had been broadcasted, would the photo have been published?
Well, an exclusive not always is “gratifying”, professionally speaking.
Oh! I almost forget the cherry on top: In “La Vanguardia Digital” the news was published illustrated with a capture of Google Maps’ street view. No comment.
Changing the subject, I hope that the Magi Kings have left you a lot of presents. You’ve seen it, for me: coal!