“I have been a witness, and these pictures are my testimony. The events I have recorded should not be forgotten and must not be repeated.” – James Nachtwey
Associated Press Photojournalist Jacquelyn Martin captured this image of 20 year old Nicholas Simmons in Washington DC a few days into the new year and almost two weeks after he left his parent’s home in Greece, NY. Shot on January 4, Martin’s image ran in USA Today in part of a gallery featuring images of the recent East Coast cold snap. After missing for almost two weeks someone close to the Simmons family saw the feature in last Saturday’s paper and recognized Nicholas. Simmons has since been admitted to a DC hospital where his father was able to reconnect with him. While I am sure there is much more to this story, this has struck as living up to the best ambitions of photography and photojournalism. There is no question there was a bit of good luck was at work. I can only speculate the number of images and assignments that Martin must have shot on this day, but somehow Nicholas made it into the edit and a photo editor at the USA Today decided this was the image to run. It is possible that having survived the edit Nicolas will survive this ordeal.
I often think of the power of Photojournalism in an international context, of photojournalists in dangerous places recording the history that would otherwise go unseen, but this is only one component of the medium. Martin was covering the community she lives and works in. For her, this happened pretty close to home, and affirms that all news is local news. Does Photography and Photojournalism make a difference, does it really save lives? Clearly it does, and I expect the Simmons family will be forever grateful to Martin and her photograph.
For however long the link is active, here is the gallery Martin’s image of Nicholas Simmons appeared in:
Winter Storm Hits the Northeast
The story as I read it on Gawker:
Family Finds Missing Son in USA Today Photo