13 is too young to die

Sometimes assignments hit too close to home.

This morning while at work, I got a call from my wife about an issue with my 13-year-old daughter. It was nothing major but it  frustrated me because it was something that we have told her not to do but she continues to do it.

Less than 10 minutes later I was sent to Chicago’s Humboldt Park neighborhood. Early Sunday morning 13-year-old Eternity Gaddy was shot in the head while visiting her aunt. This morning she died from her wounds.

As I arrived at the scene of the shooting, Eternity’s family was cleaning their niece’s blood off of the sidewalk. It was incredibly sad.

As I sheepishly shot the clean-up, I couldn’t help but think of my 13-year-old. I know that children need structure and they can’t be allowed to do whatever they please but seeing the despair in the eyes of Eternity’s family made the petty issue that I had been upset about earlier seem immensely insignificant.

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6 Responses to “13 is too young to die”

  1. Scott,

    I was just wondering how you approached that shot? Did you talk to the family first. Did they know you were coming or did you step up and start shooting? I’ve had to cover a shooting before, but never of a child and never up close. Any insight would be greatly appreciated.

    -Danny

  2. Danny, when the Tribune photo assignment desk got word that Eternity had died, they sent me out to the scene to see if there was anything going on.
    As I pulled up in my car, Eternity’s mother was sitting against a fence just down the street from where the shooting occurred.
    As I exited my car, the mom groaned when she saw my camera. I approached her and apologized that I was there and I told her that I would leave as soon as I could.
    At that point, I saw the other family members cleaning up Eternity’s blood so I walked over.
    I introduced myself and asked if I could photograph them while they cleaned. They agreed.
    I shot for five minutes. At one point, Eternity’s mom Marilyn Hernandez Castro came over to watch. That is when the above photo was taken.
    I asked each person for their name, I apologized again and then drove off.
    Everytime I have to shoot something like this which in Chicago is pretty frequently, I try to be as respectful as possible while still knowing that my job is to make a telling photo that shows the loss. If a family says no to being photographed, I will leave.

  3. Thanks for the quick reply. I’m glad to see your respectful approach. I know a lot of photographers with a lot of tact and several with hardly any. I was listening to a speaker once, his name escapes me, but one of his main points is that you’re stealing these people’s time. Many photographers see it as their right to shoot certain subjects, it’s just nice to see not everyone sees it as a right, more as a privelege. I think that really comes across in everything I’ve seen of your work. Again, thank you for the insight. I’m sure it will come in handy in my own endeavors.

  4. scott,
    this photograph is gut-wrenchingly powerful. my respect and admiration for your approach and making a picture that will make people stop and think about the world we live in.
    rob

  5. Great advice for those that find themselves covering difficult situations such as this.

  6. Good evening. I’m the mother of Eternity Gaddy. Just read this blog. I must correct the journalist, and add that none of the woman in this photo is My daughter mother. I am her mom. During this recording the whole time I was in the hospital near her bed side. The whole entire time. I don’t understand how people take credit for children they never raised or gave birth too. What people do in the name of news or for a chance at being on a paper. I’ve come across many postings regarding the night my daughter was killed, and only maybe two were accurate. People where even making web sites in her name trying to get funds, scam artist smh* unbelievable. For two and a half years I was depressed. Isolated. I’m just now doing way better. But I will never forget. People really should get there facts straight and go to the source. The one woman is my aunt, her name Ruth zayas and the other girl is her daughter Amanda Rodriguez. I raised my daughter I am her mother. My photo is not in this picture at all. It just upsets me a lot of things I read although I’ve learned to surpass it and move forward, some of em I have to correct.

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