Sunday, April 21, 2013


On Tuesday I felt like a failure for not photographing BU students in their dorms and apartments glued to their TVs, watching events unfold after the Boston marathon bombings on Patriot's Day. Granted, this was something that would have taken place on Monday when they were in lock-down, and to be kinder to myself, travelling into and around campus would not have been very easy.

But when I woke Saturday morning to find images on the university's website from Friday night's  celebrating, I literally cried a bit. Just a little. It wasn't a lot. I swear.
I felt defeated. And the worst part was I had defeated myself with stupidity by considering going in after Suspect #2 was captured and the lock-down was lifted but second-guessing myself.

I went to the gym hoping that some physical exertion would help my mood. I was on the elliptical about six minutes before I accepted that the gym was not where I needed to be, got off the machine of torture, went home, showered and hauled it into the city to see what's what.  I knew there was a slim chance of much going on. The city would surely be back to normal by now and people would be getting on with things; going shopping on Newbury Street, attending this afternoon's Red Sox game.

I still had to go see. I still had to document for myself, even if it wasn't at the height of the excitement or during the thrill of the victory.

I started in Kenmore Square where the T stop was burping-up droves of people on their way to Fenway for the game. There was a substantial Boston police and military police presence and they all had a real openness and friendliness about them. One of them took one look at my camera gear and told me "That's quite a rig!"  This surprised me; hadn't they been seeing nothing but big rigs all week?  "Did you guys get any sleep at all last night?" I asked them.

"A few hours last night" they moaned.

I heard compliments to the police ringing out from the passing crowd, "Thanks guys!" and "Well done guys!"

It was pretty cool. The sense I got that the police were holding their heads a little higher than typical likely comes from this feeling that people have a new-found respect for them. Today they do not have the reputation so often placed on them by the public. Today, they are heroes who got the job done in a really big way.

On the streets leading to Fenway, vendors were on fire "Get a free 'Believe in Boston' flag when you buy a program!"  they rang out "Programs! Get yah programs hee-ah!"
In the T to head over to Copley, I saw a runner (or at least she was dressed like one) sitting across from me, wearing a marathon jacket and holding a bouquet of of small orange and yellow roses. To my left was a couple in regular clothes, the girl also carrying a bouquet. I saw a lot of this. Wherever I was within the city.

I exited at Hynes and walked with the crowds to the corner of Boylston and Hereford Streets. Up to that location, it was busy city business as usual. As I approached the gated area where many flowers, notes, signs and photos were placed, it got quiet. Like, funeral viewing quiet.

In the middle of the city, in this one spot, you could have heard a pin drop.  I thought for sure as I was on my way in that it would be a bit of a circus; people clamoring to get photos to show off to their friends. That wasn't the case. It was as if we were all on hallowed ground. People did take pictures, but it wasn't in a sensationalistic kind of way. People were there to pay their respects. And they did that.  The woman in the marathon jacket approached with her flowers and laid them down as she quietly wept.

Looking down Boylston Street beyond the barricade was eerie. Something out of an apocalyptic movie. I've never seen Boylston Street so deserted. I'm not sure anyone ever has.

I walked on, taking Newbury Street. It was a typical Saturday on Newbury; lots of people walking around, talking, smiling, eating lunch al fresco. Until you came to another spot where a side street had been barricaded. At the corner of Newbury and Dartmouth, there were military police on hand who kindly accepted praise whenever it was offered. Which was often. From this vantage point, you could see the beautiful Boston Public Library, her flags still at half-mast.  On the other side of the barricade, a select few in marathon jackets were being handed and getting into white bodysuits. The ones we've seen evidence collectors wear on the news.

As I walked on, there were occasional memorials. A seemingly random light pole near a restaurant was covered with flowers. It was near this corner where I saw a woman approch a trio of police and go down the line, shaking each of their hands, "Thank you...Thank you...Thank you." she praised them quietly. Outside one business there was a huge area where people had written down their thoughts with sidewalk chalk. There was a bucket of chalk in the middle of it all for anyone to add to it if they wished. And in this spot too, where there was only chalk drawing, there was silence and reverence.

It was incredible. Every last person wandering the streets and coming across these sights knew what it was about. I don't mean to state the obvious. What I mean is, everyone felt effected by this. No one was out of the loop or outside it's effects.

Taking a right on Berkeley Street, I was lead back to Boylston, which is where the more substantial memorial had grown by the barricades blocking off the other end of the street. There were police and Red Cross volunteers (not sure why. Perhaps to answer questions?), therapy dogs hanging out, and more and more people. The crowd was large, but with the exception of one girl talking loudly on her phone, it was a respectful crowd.

In the outer rim of the crowd, there was friendly talking, people petting dogs and chatting with their owners, but as I made my way to the front of the crowd closest to the memorial, the sound dimmed again. No one was pushing or shoving to view, they would peacefully get out of each others' way when someone was trying to take a photo. With exception to one couple who, judging from their outfits had been in the marathon themselves, I didn't see one person photograph themselves with the scene behind them.  One man
approached and tied a pair of shoes to the barricade. Periodically, another person would approach, crouch down and lay flowers with the others.  People held each other and read all the words on the notes and signs, taking it all in.

I don't know what I thought I might see going into the city that day. Large crowds of gawkers, maybe. I was pleased and impressed to see what I did; People being human. Being kind and friendly, compassionate.

It definitely made me proud to be a Bostonian.

(To see more images, visit here and scroll down)

Dawn Moore and her son Brady Moore, 7, stop  to pay their respects at a make-shift memorial by the barricades blocking off Boylston Street at Hereford Street April 20, 2013. The Moores are from Sturbridge and were in town to see Blue Man Group.  © Cydney Scott

Thursday, April 18, 2013

This Ain't The Palm Beach Post

It's been a tough week professionally for me. The bomber at the Boston marathon is effecting everyone, including BU.

BU is my coverage area. All two miles of it plus the medical campus. It is my Palm Beach County now. It is my city of Auburn now. It is small, but it's mine.

I've been frustrated with my place of employment. Boston is now under the worlds's watch. Well, OK, maybe not the world, but a lot of people are watching what's happening here, keeping up on the status of the victims and the progress of the investigation.

My job now is to report on the goings-on at BU. When the bombing occurred, I recieved an alert from the BUPD, letting everyone know they should stay in their dorm rooms and away from Kenmore Square. Part of me winced at my total lack of interest in going into the city and joining in on the coverage (I had Patriot's Day off from work), but the other part of me knew - very competent shooters are already there. My arrival will not contribute. One thing that didn't occur to me was to go to the campus, my coverage area, to shoot how it's effecting the students.

It should have occured to my journaistically-soggied brain to drive in to get a shot of students in their dorm rooms gathered around their TV watching for updates. I would have been extremely happy with that documentation of events. If only it occured to me. Which it didn't. Because it has been a long time since I've used my journalistic brain truly.

By Tuesday I was more on it, and was shocked when I came into the office and found people discussing it as if we were in a non-news-collecting business. Like we were chatting around the water-cooler. Now granted, basically what we do is marketing and I get that. But still, there was ZERO discussion on this event with regard to how we can cover it's effects on BU.

That's when I realized; I ain't in Florida anymore, Toto. And I missed it like I have never missed it before. There was no cameraderie. There was no gathering together to brain-storm story ideas. There was zero plan of coverage attack. There was no conversation about it at all really.

It was completely heartbreaking to me.

On an online news source, I came across a quick quote from a BU med student who signed-up to host marathoners (although in truth I'm not sure if she actually DID host any) when they had no place to go because their hotel was evacuated. The nation is watching out beautiful city of Boston and the things going on here and a BU student was helping! I quickly emailed nessesary people to let them know of the student so that we might connect with her and do a story.

I got no response.

When it came across facebook that RueLaLa was selling t-shirts honoring Boston and raising money for the recovery efforts, I quickly emailed again. Why? Because RueLaLa was founded by a BU graduate. Again, no real response.

On Tuesday I wandered the campus. I came across these students. I waited for the photo to happen, waited for a student to come in for a hug, positioned myself so I could get the flag at half-mast in the background. I wanted to show how students here were dealing with the bombing and how they were showing support for each other (hanging out all day long and offering hugs to anyone who wants one - it's the little things. It's not huge but it's soemthing they wanted to do). The photo didn't run anywhere, but I'm proud of it, and pissed it wasn't shared. So, I'm sharing it now.

With flags flying at half-mast, Emma Walters (CAS'13), center, of the group I Embrace You shares the love to a passerby April 16, 2013 as fellow-hugger Tehya Saylor (CAS'16), at right, looks on in Marsh Plaza April 16, 2013. "(Yesterday's events) rocked our boat and burst our safety bubble" said Walters, "We're here to spark some positivity and spread some kindness" she spoke of the group, who is typically on Marsh Plaza on Fridays for "Free Hug Friday" but decided last night to come out for the day to share some love.

Later in the day, I was an hour or more early for the evening candlelight vigil which was to happen in the heart of the campus, Marsh Plaza. Yellow tape was set-up in front of one of the campus buildings nearby and before long I recieved another alert (you can sign-up to recieve campus alerts on your phone) a suspicious package was reported and was being investigated by Boston police. It asked that people stay clear of CAS (College of Arts and Sciences). I knew it was nothing, but of course the police need to take any report seriously.

Are the photos that resulted the best pictures in the world? No. But they do show how this event is effecting the BU community.

Some of my images ran here with THIS PIECE.

Then here is the shot that ran from the vigil. I will take this opportunity to say that the caption is misleading which drives me batshit. To look at the image (also below) you would think that Rev. Hill is raising his hands in prayer, yes? Being all holier-than-thou or something. Not so. He's encouraging people to move closer. Which they did. Which I said in the caption. Which was changed.

I also shot this one below. The girl on the right was giving a smile of encouragement to her friend who was very upset during the vigil. I didn't manage to get their names which was a big shame on me, but the TV media was in her face (get off my turf!) and she was really uncomfortable about it, so when I was wandering the crowd trying to get shots of people attempting to light their candles in the gale-force winds, the vigil quickly wrapped up and the two disappeared. I suspected BU Today wouldn't run it because I didn't have their names. I was told they didn't look "upset enough".

I have a major problem with this. Is it a problem because it seems insensetive to want pictures of kids really upset? No. I have a major problem with this because it has been my experience, over and over, that when I shoot an emotional picture, they won's run it. Heaven forbid a parent see a photo of a BU student unhappy.
Here's where I forget - I'm actually working for a marketing organization. Not a news organization.

On Wednesday it was made public that the third victim in the bombings was in fact a BU student. Her name was released and the media descended again on our campus.

I went to Marsh Plaza again as there was to be an "interdenominational healing service" in the early evening for all who felt like attending. I was proud to learn that while I would only be allowed in to take a few shots from the balcony of the chapel at the end of the service, I was the only shooter allowed in at all.

Flowers is honor of Lu Lingzi began to build up at the base of the MKL statue in the center of the plaza and the Chinese Student Association set up a table where other students could write condolences to her parents, and sign a poster for the other BU student who was still recovering in a Boston hospital.

It was a sensetive situation, but I still got a simple shot (again, not terribly interesting) of four Chinese students writing their thoughts down. I also got their names. To my complete confusion, the photo ran without their names on it, making me look like a lame-o who just took a picture and wormed away, failing to identify the students.

None of my images from the interior of the chapel ran, (which is completely understandable because it was poorly attended). Both myself and my boss shot many images from the plaza, students laying flowers down, etc. Melody, my boss, got a beautiful shot of some students leaning into each other. Just lovely.

I woke Thursday to see what they ran. It was an AP photo. A fucking AP photo! And not only that, it was set-up. The image showed a pair of sneakers in the plaza with a bouquet of flowers leaning on them. Tied to the bouquet was a BU wallet. Now when I was there shooting, those shoes and the wallet were no where near each other. My, how interesting that they managed to gravitate towards each other to make such a lovely image for you, Mr. Crappy AP Shooter!

I was so angry that I paced around my house bitching out loud while I got ready for work. It was such an incredible dissapointement to work so hard to document the effects of this event on our community only to have a photo of innatomate objects be used. I photo of innatomate objects that no one fromt he staff even shot.

I went to my boss and she was dissapointed too. I suggested we at least try and get a gallery set-up on the BU Today facebook page, so we can at least share in some capacity, theimages we;ve managed to capture.  Hopefully that will happen.

Monday, April 15, 2013

Boston Marathon

The weather here in Boston is beautiful today. I woke excited that I had the day off from work and that my friends would be coming over to hang out, eat good food and have nice conversation.
Christina left my place in the early afternoon after a day pf brie sandwiches and s'more crescents to run errands and pick-up her kids. Amanda and I went for a walk and when we returned, we learned that there was an explosion at the Boston Marathon finish line.

It didn't really hit me much. I thought, well, must be a weird manhole cover explosion or something, but as the hours have passed, it's clear that is not the case.

Someone built some bombs and planted them where the crowds were. As time passes, more explosive devices are being found and disabled (perhaps they are unexploded because the person who set-off the bombs is now a patient at Beth Israel).

Police are telling people in the crime scene to not to use their phones because it could set off other explosive devices.  To think that something which is used to keep loved ones close and in this case allow you to let those loved ones know you're ok, can actually cause the opposite? So awful. Soon cell service in Boston is shut down completely. The weather was gorgeous and people were so excited to participate in this great tradition in Boston. And now, thanks to some crazy making home-made bombs, this is what we'll remember. It's unreal.

One spectator was interviewed and said that there were many people around him with limbs blown off. I cannot express the irony of this. People becoming legless at the Boston Marathon. 

The President came on the national news, talking about Boston. My Boston. Our Boston. This is huge enough to cause the President to debrief on it with the media. Somehow, it makes it even bigger than your eyes realize when you watch it on TV.