Thomas E. Schmuki Photography

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Parkland Massacre - my pain is deep, will my photography help anyone?

Event ExperiencesTom Schmuki3 Comments

I wish I could express in words the deepest feelings streaming through my soul at this moment.  I cannot.  I am sure we are all impacted a different way by the horrific shooting at Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland Florida just two days ago.  My impact runs deep and permanent.  I will never forget this day, ever.  I will never forget these feelings, ever.  So I ask myself, why am I so traumatized?  How can others be almost aloof over the situation?  I was told by my fellow worker today that he chooses to not read, hear or learn about the incident because he cannot handle the impact.  I understand that.  I guess I have chosen to immerse myself in the story. 

I am sure the reason I am so impacted because I lost my son about 6 years ago.  I have never recovered.  I have never been the same.  When you look in my eyes you can still see my pain.  I am driven by utter sadness that a loving God would never allow these things to happen.  I used to believe in God, even served a mission for my church … 2 years.  Through a lifetime of experiences like these I have drifted to a level of God cannot even exist.  My pain is deeper, much deeper than when I was a “believer”.  I believed in life after death and the whole going to a better place thing.  My religion has evolved to it is not what you believe that is important, it is what you do, it is how you live, it is how you treat people, it is how you provide value to others lives.  Photography certainly allows me to do that.  Some people actually appreciate my work.  Probably not many, but enough to make me keep it up.

This morning I got up and decided I must go to the place where they held the vigil last night.  I was driven to prepare my camera gear and actually be late to work to make it happen.  My hopes were to provide at least 1 moving photograph for one family, something I could possibly do that would make a difference.

I first tried to go on campus and observe the perimeter of the school.  It was locked down from all sides.  Police would not let me in even when I pulled the I am a photographer ticket out.  I then went to the site of last night’s vigil.  Pictures are attached.  I will never forget the feeling.  All of a sudden I was in the middle of 17 crosses on the field, with parents and loved ones all honoring their own fallen child or adult and I was overwhelmed with grief.  I balled like a baby.  I could no longer take pictures. It is 8 hours since that happened and I still feel the agony.  At lunch time I returned again because I felt like I missed a few key photographs.  Hopefully I nailed it.  Parents, loved ones, children, classmates, the media, all there, and we all shared the same bond of grief.

If just one of the photographs touched your soul, please let me know, it will make it all worth it.  If there is a God, maybe he will say… “Job well done, here is a place for you right next to your son Eric”.

Thomas Schmuki