Amid Chants of “Murder The Media”, These Photographers Rushed In
Let’s take a moment to celebrate the photojournalists who risked their lives to document the Capitol breach
Yesterday’s events — the breach of the United States Capitol by a mob of armed insurgents — really pissed me off. For one thing, I love America. Seeing people desecrate the sacred spaces of our government — swinging from the walls of the House chambers, putting their feet up on the desks of our legislators while ransacking their offices, and walking off with podiums while smiling gleefully sickened me.
But I also take it personally. As a photographer and a photo agency owner, I knew from the remarkable photos coming out of the Capitol — even as the siege and attack was in progress — that my colleagues were there on the ground, putting their lives on the line to bring us the story.
Sure enough, I learned today that Oliver Contreras, a photographer for my company’s partner SIPA USA (among other outlets), was indeed on the scene at the Capitol, documenting the attacks. I was also amazed by the work of Win McNamee of Getty Images, Saul Loeb of AFP, Olivier Douliery and other photographers who clearly rushed into the building alongside the mob of insurgents, heroically documenting the attacks.
“Murder the Media” was a common refrain from the crowd at the Capitol, spray painted on walls and chanted by the mob. Reporters on the scene were assaulted and had their gear destroyed. In light of all that, it takes a special kind of courage to charge into a building with an unconstrained mob and a grossly outnumbered police force, and to keep shooting beautiful, powerful images throughout, all at an enormous personal risk.
Let’s figure out as a country how we can rebuild from this, and what we can do better. But let’s also take a moment to acknowledge the incredible work — and personal sacrifice — of the photojournalists who documented this week’s events for the world.
Here’s a video of Contreras and several colleagues discussing what it’s like to work as a photojournalist in 2020 and beyond, at DMLA 2020.