"I don't care so much anymore about 'good photography,' I am gathering evidence for history." - Gilles Peress

It is often said that there is no such thing as a native New Yorker. I feel differently, however. New York is, and has always been, my home. Born in Manhattan and raised in Brooklyn, I have seen the city change around me, for better or worse. My fervent love of history has led me to explore the visual records of eras past -- and has led me to create visual records of the present.

There is always something happening in New York. Which incidents are to be considered "newsworthy" is a decision left up to news editors. All incidents, however, are "historyworthy." In the fraction of a second it takes for a camera shutter to release, a permanent record has been made of a moment in time, one which may be looked back upon by scholars in future generations, or by those simply curious, as many of us are today, about the past.

"It's not always easy to stand aside and be unable to do anything except record the sufferings around one." - Robert Capa

I have always felt a strong connection with the Police and Fire Departments that serve our 8 million residents, and thus most of my images depict these emergency service professionals at work. These pictures are sought after by large and small newspapers alike, because they feed the public's need (and right) to know about what happens in their city. After the picture has been published, it does not necessarily become "forgotten," it exists as long as the photographer chooses to preserve it. It serves as a historic document for the benefit of the future.

Thousands of pages have been written about photojournalism ethics, and for the past century-and-a-half photographers have often been met with questions like "why are you taking a picture of tragedy?" People must remember that it is a photojournalist's job to document facts, and those are not always going to be happy and pleasant. The truth is that bad things happen, too, and photographers can not and should not discriminate against them, for to do so would present a skewed view of history. Our understanding of the past has been enhanced by images that some might regard as being in poor taste. Matthew Brady's early photographs of Civil War casualties have driven home the reality of battle for millions of people. Robert Capa's images of the landings at D-Day brought viewers closer to the shores of Normandy than they could have comprehended without these visual records. And, most importantly to me, Arthur "Weegee" Fellig and his clunky camera equipment and contrasty black and white pictures show the nightly fires, crimes, and disasters that occurred in New York through most of the mid-20th century.

"The only way to become a photographer is to BE a photographer." - Nancy Lee

Much has changed since the days when photographers smoked cigars, used huge Speed Graphic cameras, and kept their press cards in the bands of their fedoras. The attitudes of society have changed dramatically, and where an average lensman in the 1940s would have an easy time of accessing the scene of a breaking news story, the modern photographer has it more difficult. Even with fewer daily papers and photo agencies in operation today, competition is still fierce, and the key is to be first at the scene to get the shot. The relationship between police and press has become a strained one, and for a time was downright adversarial. Greater sensitivity (on both sides of the lens) is slowly seeping in, however.

When I turned 12, I started tuning in to police and fire calls on a radio scanner. Always an emergency buff, I was now starting to get a feel of what was happening where, and learned that a siren going down the street could mean anything from a false alarm to a major inferno. In 1996, I started working for my school newspaper, deciding that I would attempt to cover "outside" news, and "work the streets" as best I could. By 1997, at the age of 15, I was chasing fire and crime stories regularly, and made my first photo sale to a local newspaper that spring. To my surprise, my application for a Working Press card from the New York Police Department was approved, and that summer I started freelancing for the Daily News. I also became friends with News photographer Todd Maisel, who generously invited me to accompany him on numerous occasions, "cruising" for news stories.

In the intervening years between then and now, my photographs have appeared in the Brooklyn Paper Publications, Brooklyn Daily Eagle, New York Times, New York Post, The Chief-Leader, on the Associated Press news wire, and in official publications of the New York Fire Department. I have had the great opportunity to photograph people from all walks of life; cab drivers, shop keepers, artists, musicians, athletes, Mayors, and Presidents. From stickball games to World Series parades, from fender-bender accidents to major catastrophies, my camera has captured a lot, and I am thankful to have been behind it to press the button at the right times.

    -Marc A. Hermann
Brooklyn, NY

Some of Marc's press credentials from 1997-2005.

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