Jump to content

Why do people take pictures at crash scenes?

Recommended Posts

I read this article on the BBC web pages and thought it interesting:




As contributors to a stock agency, particularly for anyone who uploads to Live News, I wonder where the line is. Personally, if people needed help, I like to think I would be helping. But if help is on-scene, I might take one or two not-so-graphic shots of an incident (e.g. no dead / badly injured people).  Uploading to social media is something I wouldn't do and I would trust the Live News desk to do any appropriate filtering.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Agree with Matt I also upload to live news and had that exact experience last year. The emergency services had just arrived on scene, the appropriate treatment was being carried out so I concentrated on the wrecked vehicles without any people in the images. If how ever I was first on scene the camera would stay in the car while I gave assistance until the services arrived.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Because people are numpties - if they are sharing pics of their dinner, pics of their drink in a bar, pics of the postman dropping off mail, pics of butter of XXXXX, then sure as hell they are going to post pics of something actually exciting going on near them - people get engaged, posters self worth increases.


Social crack! Must have likes!


Me, I'd possibly take some photos, maybe if they were news worthy and not gratuitous - but the F would post them on social media???


It's like article on BBC Wild life mag in reverse

https://www.discoverwildlife.com/news/viral-videos-pet-lemurs/?utm_source=Adestra&utm_medium=Email&utm_content=BBCW&utm_campaign=Newsletter 07%2F02%2F19_149661_BBC Wildlife Magazine_Newsletters


People are just such vapid, disconnected muppets. 


"Oh it's cute. Must have"


"Oh it's gross. Must share"


I am all but removed from social now. 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

There is a small specialist news service local to me - which focuses on the work of the emergency services.  I specifically get called to go and photograph scenes - and so obviously am alert to stuff happening around me.   Why do I do it?  Because if I am there taking shots the story will be properly and fairly reported, images will be treated with respect, reports and photos will not go out unless and until police OK it (except in that very rare case where police were trying to prevent news of their own cock up) - not only faces but numberplates will be pixelated.  For those of you avoiding the "gore" you can cause as much distress with an image of an identifiable crashed car - because people recognize vehicles.  I tell any onlookers that ask (and they do I am the one with the "big" camera) where the story and photos will be found - and my presence reduces somewhat peoples inclination to take shots and put them on social media.   There is abuse - both in person and on social media - with accusations of being a ghoul and a vulture and profiting off others misfortune - but I do it because people are going to take the photos and share the rumours anyway, and if I am there, there is a fighting chance that it can be managed professionally.  People want to know what is going on.

If I am first on the scene (yes it happened) - I get in do what has to be done until emergency services get there, make as good a handover as I can, then go and sit down with the shakes.  Then grab the camera and get on with my job.  Then sit down and shake some more.  I will also help if needed when already shooting - I have helped direct people, and traffic, I have provided drinks for emergency service personnel, and I have given what support I can to people in distress.   I by far prefer not being the first on the scene - too much responsibility by far.

Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally i dont think people should or need to take photos of somebodys elses personal tragedy. If you are first on the scene the responsibilty should be simply to call the emergency services, tell them the exact location, what needs to be there, police fire or ambo, are there injuries and then try to not become a casulty if you try to slow traffic down near the scene.

Then stay as a witness if required if not leave the scene safely.

But sadly a lot of the public are just hooked on getting social media likes.

Pretty sad ! 

Link to comment
Share on other sites

I think you have to differentiate, as the BBC article does, between news photography and social media.  As a news photographer I take news photographs.  Very occasionally I take accident pictures.  https://mobile.twitter.com/ianandmj/status/976547686311694337 I do so carefully to avoid anything distasteful.  However in this snowflake world almost any news picture will upset someone.  I also take crime scene photos of murder, rape crimes etc. Again, some would say intrusive.   However, at the last stabbing scene I attended, a neighbor had videoed the scene for social media with what could be considered far more intrusive footage than the “Forensic officers attend...” that I took.  I also took pictures outside a bar where an alleged murder had taken place, of two young women lighting tea lights at a makeshift shrine (with their agreement).  


I have a responsibility as a news photographer under the editors code and the the organisation publishing has a responsibility not to offend public decencies.  


There are two key questions..  What is “news”?  And what is the responsibility of news photographers to take photographs?


i would refer you to the excellent book “Pictures on a page” by Harold Evans that has an excellent discussion on this subject.  



Link to comment
Share on other sites

29 minutes ago, Ace said:

strangely enough, I have just come across some car accident photos on Facebook, photo credit to ....local fire brigade ! must need the likes 😉

Fire stations (and ambulance crews) are becoming more active on social media, for good reasons and bad.  Our local fire service has quite a few retained firefighters - and social media lets them build connections for recruitment.  They also do great videos from inside the cab on blue light runs (generally ones that turn out to be less serious) showing the problems they can have if drivers are panicking, or don't know what they are doing, or are just being stupid.  They have asked me before, and I have provided with the consent of the news service, photographs from scenes.  They tend to use these to show multi-agency work, or to highlight an area they get questions about.   Again it comes down to people are curious and want to know stuff and to a degree, official accounts on social media can make sure the correct information is provided to try and combat the stuff that is completely wrong.  I believe with photos taken of crash scenes by firefighters there they will have sought consent from those involved - and it is generally freely given.

On a side note, there is a project involving several fire services and the police near me where they not only take pictures but use the actual vehicles involved in fatal accidents that were due to drinking, drugs, stuff like that.   They take the vehicles to shows, and public events involving trade stands (I think they may also do visits to secondary schools).  They have trained personnel and volunteer officers who talk to the public and run them through what happened and why - and those photos and the vehicles have a very sobering effect (they have been cleaned but there may be inevitable staining).  If seeing a photo stops some person getting behind the wheel drunk, or makes someone think twice about showing off to their mates I am all for it.  Again all material used is used with the consent of the families - and for that, we should thank them.

  • Like 1
Link to comment
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!

Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.

Sign In Now
  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.