I was a vulture today. At least that was the term used by a police officer. He and I were both watching a group of television cameramen and reporters surround a couple as they left the scene of a triple murder in the suburbs. I wasn’t a part of the group, although I easily could have been. I had been photographing people’s reactions, such as the man above in what was a very heartbreaking scene. Even though I was out there with everyone else, waiting to find whatever tidbit of information we could find, I didn’t see a picture in that one mob so stepped away. So the officer muttered “…vultures..”, and truth be told, I saw it too. At face value, either in movies or in real life, it is ugly. And I struggle with it. There is another side, of course. If there were no photos to show the emotion of a scene, news such as this would have less capacity to arouse the body politic to action, and to ask countless questions that urgently matter, such as, is the killer on the loose? Was the home invasion random or part of a pattern? Is the community safe? Emotional pictures are like an alarm bell to pay-attention-to-this-one. They encourage connection, empathy, concern, and hopefully action. Having said that, there is such a thing as too much. Both in process and result. Invasive. Gratuitous. Insensitive. I’m sure there are countless stories of this, and I won’t seek to defend them. I’m not alone in trying to balance the need to get information out quickly, with the need to respect someone’s emotional space in a public setting. My television colleagues have pressures that I don’t fully appreciate, but those I respect also struggle with it. Perhaps I should take the advice of a different police officer who said later, “you’re just doing your job.” In the end, this post is not meant to be a confession, a defense, or an appeal for absolution. It’s just a statement of fact. I felt like a vulture today. And I’ll never get used to it.