For most local folks in my area it is common knowledge that our fire department and community just lost a tremendous man.
Ronnie Hinkle ("Hink") lost his battle to cancer last week... I hate cancer.
Today is the day we will be honoring him with a parade of trucks, a bell service, a last call, comradery and good food. It's sure to be an event he would love to attend and no doubt he will be there in spirit. No surprise that the anticipated turnout is causing us to close down the right northbound lane on a state highway from 3pm until approximately 7pm. He was a loved man.
When I joined the department Ronnie was the chief at the time. I was so thankful that he was so open and supportive of me taking photos for the department. Never once did he make me feel like I didn't belong on a scene.
I still remember the day I took one of my favorite photos of him. This photo was taken at a 3 car MVA at the top of the school hill. It was cold but thankfully no one was seriously injured.
Any time I take a photo that manages to capture someones spirit and personality instantly becomes my favorite. I love the twinkle in his eyes, I love the slight smirk and I even love that he's not looking at the camera. He's over looking the scene and making sure everyone was where they were supposed to be. While we will miss him here on earth there's no doubt his spirit will be watching over us each and every call from here on out.
Today we will gather and honor him and I will photograph the service. For me, my role as photographer for these services is hard. There is obviously a fine line that some understand what i'm doing and some don't. I don't want to disrespect anyone but I do see the importance of capturing these moments. The honor and beauty of the bell service and last call is something that I, as a firefighters daughter, respect more than words can even explain. When that bell rings three times its as if it cuts through the air. It is heart wrenching, overwhelming and inexplicably beautiful.
A few years ago we did a landing zone drill at FMCC. That call is when I took my second favorite photo of Ronnie. He was so nervous before we did this drill and I reassured him several times he would do fine, naturally, he did a great job. I am spending time this morning getting my gear ready, cleaning my lenses, checking SD cards and batteries and remembering this wonderful man.
Much like the day of this landing zone drill, I am going into shooting the service slightly nervous but I hope that I can manage to photograph it in a way that truly honors Hink in a way that he deserves.