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Fire aftermath

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I went to Quincy Monday to cover the aftermath of an apartment fire that left 24 people without a home. Making photographs of something like this just takes time and patience. It's a matter of getting to the location of the fire and waiting for something to happen that is newsworthy.

First thing I did was to walk around the building and that's when I found Nancy Barajas building a snowman near her apartment in another part of the complex. From where she was playing, I had a pretty good view of the burned structure which made for a decent overall photograph.

I spent quite a bit of time shooting photographs of her, trying to get the right mood. I didn't think a photo of her smiling and laughing would be a good feeling with all the damage behind her so I waited for something a bit more somber.

I walked around the building again, shooting close-ups of damage when I noticed a truck had parked in front of the building while I was in back. I found a couple of guys up on the second floor taking measurements and looking around at the damage. They said they were with the apartment complex management assessing damage. They said it was okay to take photographs but by the time I had climbed the stairs to see the damage myself, they had moved on to another section of the building.

I ended up waiting quite a while for their return and fortunately that gave me time to compose an interesting picture so when they did come back I was ready.

Christine Pratt, the reporter, had been searching local hotels for where the victims might be staying and called me with the location of a family she had talked to. They let me take a photograph while they watched television in their room.

Set with three photographs - two for the front page and one for the jump - I knew that I had the images in hand that would help tell the story of the fire, the victims, and the aftermath.