This year, a new company put on the Teva Mountain Games in Vail. Much of the access photojournalists have enjoyed for the past several years was gone. Photographers were cut off from some of the big events like climbing and mountain biking with the organizers citing safety reasons. It got me thinking about the idea of how I approach risk and safety while photographing.
In my opinion just about all photography involves a certain amount of risk to personal safety. There is always an element of risk versus award in photography. War correspondents put their lives on the line every day in order to reap the reward of a meaningful story-telling image. Luckily for me, my line of work doesn’t require that much risk on a daily basis, but it does have a certain element of danger.
My climbing and ski photography certainly has elements of risk, but even more routine subjects can be dangerous. My wife, Carin, broke her back in a car accident last summer, while accompanying me on a pretty routine and safe shoot for National Geographic Adventure. It just goes to show that even in the most mundane subject there can still be elements for serious risk to safety. In the accompanying in image, in order to photograph the climber, Kevin Kaminski, I needed to free solo (technical climbing without a rope or protection) an adjacent easier, but equally high, route while carrying my equipment.
As photographers we must constantly ask ourselves if the resulting image is worth the risk. How far are we willing to go for the image? What are we risking? How will it affect us and the people in our lives? These are deeply personal questions, and no one can answer them for us. We each have to answer that question for ourselves.
Timothy Faust is an award winning photojournalist living in Breckenridge. If you have a photography question you would like to see answered in this column, please send it to [email protected] View his work at www.timothyfaust.com.