Portraits of firefighters taken at their place of work

Mayson Lisonbee, 21, sawyer
Mayson Lisonbee, 21, sawyer on the Salt Lake Unified Fire Authority crew. National Geographic photo by Mark Thiessen used with permission.

Regular readers of Wildfire Today are familiar with some of the work of photographer Mark Thiessen. The fact that he works for National Geographic should tell you a lot about his skill with a camera. Mark recently posted an article that included portraits of wildland firefighters.

Portraits are frequently taken in a studio, or for a couple about to get married, they can be shot outside in nice, clean, pretty places. One reason for that is that the conditions need to be carefully controlled if you want predictable, good quality, well-lit photographs. The environment where wildland firefighters work does not have anything in common with a photographer’s studio or a city park, but Mark did not let that stop him from hauling lighting equipment out to the fireline where he took portraits of members of the Salt Lake Unified Fire Authority crew, a Type 2 Initial Attack Crew, where they were working on the Fork Complex of fires near Hayfork, California.

In a second article he describes how he shoots the photos and the equipment he hauls around.

Here’s an excerpt from Mark’s article:

On the last day [of their 21-day assignment], Cody Werder, a Los Angeles city firefighter said, “We have a new appreciation for how hard these handcrews work. It’s unbelievable how hard they work and are so knowledgeable.” He jokes, “fighting structure fires is like child’s play.”

Be sure and check out the other members of the crew in the first article.

Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, Bill Gabbert now writes about it from the Black Hills.

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One thought on “Portraits of firefighters taken at their place of work”

  1. A great story! It makes me especially happy that Mark chose a Type 2 IA crew for his great subjects. As good as hotshots are, these guys and their ilk deserve the spotlight this time. They are usually deep in the shadows while the type 1 folks bask in the light….
    Very Well Done Mark!

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