Hooded Heroe

May 30, 2016

Probably one of the 'Spookiest' photos I have taken to date, this portrait of Francois Claasen, a farm worker in the Elgin Valley, has to be one of my most memorable experiences.Stepping out my car at 11:45am on a Monday morning early in January 2016, I thought to myself - "Most people at work have no idea what is going on high up in the forests of Elgin Valley". A thought I experience every time I'm photographing wild fires. I have often seen people walking their dogs, playing on their phones or mowing their lawn, completely unaware of the potential disaster just over the next hill where Firefighters are risking their lives battling a blaze.


It is surreal to think that two completely different realities can exist at the same time in such close proximity.I continued to walk down the road between two forests - One on fire and one about to burn. A road is often hopeless as a fire break, the fire burns through the roots in the ground and flares up on the other side. I stopped to photograph a Puff Adder (http://bit.ly/1WUhU6h), which was slithering straight toward burnt ground. If it were any other creature I would've attempted to stop it, but all I could do was hope it would turn around. I ran toward the tree-line to photograph 4 men with fire brooms, when I saw the white hood in the corner of my eye. I have no idea to this day what Francois paused for or why he looked astray - but capturing this moment was priceless. A moment that makes no sense to the ordinary viewer, but unifies all of mine into one. A moment that will never be captured, recreated or exist again, except in the story within this photograph.


I guess this is why I love photography...... To capture and relive my most memorable moments.


Full Album - http://www.sullivanphotography.org/#!elgin-valley-fire/ivofp


Thanks to the Greater Overberg FPA for all their support on the day and toNCC Environmental Services for the kit.

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All Images © 2018 Justin Sullivan. All Rights Reserved