A lensful of stories and emotions

By: Christina Maxouris

The Dallas Morning News photographer Ashley Landis was worth both of the back-to-back sessions she was given -- if not more.

From the first session 'Ambushed: Coverage of the Dallas Police Shooting' to 'Seeing Things Differently: A Guide to Getting the Shot',' Landis covered what it takes to get the perfect shot, and how important that can be -- even when our lives are in danger. Landis, along with two other reporters from The Dallas Morning News were on scene covering what they thought would be another peaceful protest last summer. But when shots were fired, Landis was in the middle of one of the largest news stories of 2016. And just like her, I'd do the exact same thing: run towards the action. 

"Journalists are stupid," Landis said on running towards danger, and I understand the statement -- but there's something about the thrill and our incredibly outweighing responsibility to get all the information, all the pictures about what's happening... It's a craze, and if that's what 'stupid' is, I'll take it.

But from both the Dallas police shooting, and the perfect shot 101 sesh, the biggest take-away for me was finding the different angle. Landis is an exemplary photographer when it comes to capturing emotion, action and the atmosphere of an event. And being able to do that through the eyes of a lens is no easy task. Landis effectively walked us through finding the human factor, through a series of pictures that depicted policers kneeling behind a car, and later on saluting officers that had been pronounced dead, as well as another picture of a police man reassuring a woman officer. 

But the adrenaline of the job covering shootings comes with its own set of consequences. Landis and her fellow reporters on scene struggled with PTSD in the days after the protest, and found themselves on edge, jumping at every sound that resembled a gun shot, Landis saying she was waiting for the "police sirens" to follow shortly after every loud bang she heard. 

Nevertheless, both panels made me love my job even more, and I'm already saving up for a new lens, and waiting for the next photo op.