April 15th marks one full year since the Boston Marathon bombing. The horrific incident shocked the world, as scores of graphic images dominated the news cycle. However, this particular shot is powerful in a different way. Rather than focusing on the carnage, the photographer has captured the human reaction immediately following the blasts. The horror of the moment is evident on the pained faces of the embracing women. An unidentified person rushes into the frame to offer her assistance. Meanwhile, the gravity of the situation has not yet registered for some of the onlookers who are captured in the frame.
Photojournalists must often perform in the face of danger, and this image from Alex Trautwig is no exception. In situations such as this, there is little time to think through the exposure, but only to react instinctively. Despite the challenges, the photographer has captured a technically sound image. The shutter speed is fast enough to freeze each subject and there’s enough depth of field to keep everyone sharp. Finally, rather than cropping out the surrounding environment, the composition provides us with context for what was happening at the time of the blast.
To put yourself in the photographer’s shoes is a humbling experience. How would you react if an explosion shook the ground beneath your feet? For Trautwig, the decision was to stay and capture a moving story for the world to see.