Twice the old civil defense building in Qatar has caught fire recently. Twice I watched the plume of black smoke rising into the air reasonably close to where I work, and twice I did nothing about it.
There was a time when I would have jumped in my car and headed straight for the smoke in the hope of getting some shots of the incident. Then I would have eagerly got to my computer, sorted the images and published them online to all major social media as fast as I could.
Don’t get me wrong, I photographed much more than fires, it’s just that fires were easy to spot when they were happening and usually were of public interest. But I have come to realise I am jeopardising my ability to stay in this great country if I continue to photograph things that the state would prefer I didn’t. So as I am a guest here in Qatar, perhaps it’s time to put away the camera. Not just for fires, but for all previously newsworthy spontaneous events, and concentrate on pastimes that don’t run the risk of me getting into trouble.
I enjoyed photojournalism, but I am not brave and never mind entering a war zone to peruse my passion, I am not even prepared to risk getting into trouble with the law for it.
So now if I see a car crash, a fire or indeed any other incident, I am going to resist the instinct to photograph it and continue doing whatever it was I was doing. And all the time I am doing whatever it was I was doing, I will be wishing I had been brave enough to go and get the images I knew I was missing 🙁