In the Memory of the Officers
8 May 2012
Walking in Downtown Los Angeles, I spot several TV trucks. Walking closer I see a lot of police officers. I take a peek and see several photojournalists and other cameramen. Three horses are accompanied by three officers came to the scene. From the LAPD central building, I see a group of pipers with their skirts coming out. Something big was going on and the best part, I had my equipment with me, so it was just a matter of waiting and, shooting.
A cloudy morning in Los Angeles covers the present people with a mourning blanket. Voices are scarce, but the sound of the pipes, keep remind us that some officers are down. Sadness goes through their minds, and so do lifetime memories, of the good times and the bad. From a conference room, family members, officers and some other personnel keep coming out. Officers in black stand up straight with their caps on, while the chief organizes them. The family members are in a line with red roses on their hands, who follow the two officers and the piper. The senior piper, lets us know with the music that the ceremony will begin. He's escorted by two officers with white gloves that carry a crown of flowers on an stand. They walk towards a brass-like color metal wall. The wall has several spot on which names can be carved. In front of that wall, the crown with flowers stands, in the memory of police officers. Some officers hold rifles on their hands. Blank bullets pop when honoring guard to them. And also four helicopters that fly through the sky and with the sound of their engines, let us know of their presence.
As I start shooting, I found interesting close-ups in some situations. As mentioned, the day was cloudy, typical day for a memorial, but great for lighting. Often in films, cloudy or rainy days are sad, or stereotyped as sad. To be sincere, I do not like rainy days. And to be sincere again, I don't like to see humans in pain; that's one of the things I learned from this story. As a photographer, we have moments when shooting people, when we can laugh or enjoy. But there will be other situations, that will make you cry or that would simply won't enjoy. As it happened to me. There was a lady with man watching the memorial. Asking myself whether I took a shot of her or not, it took me thirty seconds to decide. Then, I decided to shoot her, but with all the respect possible. It was moment, which her face had all the anguish of a situation or moment like this. I never got to know, whether it was a son, a sister, a brother, or a family member. By taking a quick guess, it had to be family member. A face with all that anguish, said everything of that moment. Not only of the moment, but also of what went through her mind and body. The guy next to her, lets her know with his presence, she's not alone and that she's not the only with the pain. They both share the same pain, and so did others present. The anguish of the lady was an immediate impulse, that left me crying for a while.
With tears going down my face, I had the chance of taking some close-ups of some officers. One of them particularly, his facial expression was summarized with one word, sadness. I guess is not easy loosing a workmate in the line of duty. Maybe it could have been his best friend. The truth, we may never know it. But the truth is that being an officer is not an easy task. It involves many occupational hazards. And involves loyalty and pride to the police force, that's for sure. They stand with pride and are loyal to one another. Somewhere in their hearts, they keep a nice place for them.
Flowers are always present in any kind of memorial. Red roses take some space of the brass wall. Some say that red roses symbolize love, eternal life, eternal memory or bloodshed. Many people approached the wall. Some put flowers, others cried, others simply felt proud of the fallen soldiers. The same lady mentioned before, can't still believe what has happened. But we must all understand that death is part of life. We have to learn to live with the pain. Photography brings a mixture of emotions, it all depends on the perception of the person. It was a mixture of emotions what I saw near the wall. Anguish, pride, tranquility, sadness, happiness, hard feelings, etc.. This is one of those moments, where I want the images to speak by themselves and let the viewers, to be the judges. But this mixture of emotions will always be present, whenever through their thoughts go the memories of the fallen officers or people who passed away.