Vancouver Riots

Somewhere in the tumult of the Vancouver riots, I stood trying to clean my camera from beer that had begun crystallizing on my LCD screen after a demonstrator had sprayed it over myself and other spectators. My mouth was abnormally dry, and I failed to procure enough spit to dissolve the beer residue. I took a moment to examine my charcoal hands and think. Being in auto-pilot mode, I hadn't thought since I saw my burning wreckage. Compression bombs and flash-bangs had gone off only a few feet from me minutes before this, and thinking now, I could hear subtle differences in the strength of my hearing from ear to ear - and ringing. I checked my iPhone for the time and found texts, missed calls, Facebook messages and tweets asking if I was safe because they saw me on CBC next to a flaming car, photographing demonstrators. Giving my Vancouver friend a call to confirm my safety, I started leaving the riot zone. Ashamed, she was telling me that my opinion of Vancouver would probably be skewed after seeing this. During the phone call, tear gas had been deployed near me, and I had to run through excrement spilled from portable toilets that had been tipped. I finished my phone call and got out of the riot zone with peppered eyes and a searing throat. It was then that I realized the magnitude of the chaos that ensued after the Canucks lost to the Bruins. I had spent the last hour and a half in the heat of fiery fans and flaming cars and not taken a second to think about the situation. Finally in the safety of a coffee shop a view blocks away, I charged my phone and drank some tea. Realizing now that my 50mm f/1.4 USM falling off of the Georgia and Hamilton parkade roof due to some rowdy spectators was something that actually happened, I knew that there was no way I could take any more images. That lens was my night vision because of it's wide aperture. Besides that, my iPhone was on 2% battery life before I found Blenz Coffee; continuing to photograph the riot with next to no light and a dead phone was probably a terrible idea I figured. This was when I realized how unprepared I was for what was going on between some Vancouver hockey fans and their own city. To be honest, being a naive foreigner that had never heard much of the '94 riots, I only saw that things may get bad when Boston scored their third goal. People were having fun and energy was high before, people in the crowds began to murmur things about "the riot" that was, "gonna happen," and their safety. Families began to leave. I followed suit. A few blocks away, I heard about a car burning and something clicked within me. My photojournalist side had to be there, next to the burning wreckage. I sincerely wish I could have predicted what happened as a possible outcome before the game had even started so that I could have been a better photographer. Because my 50mm lens had fallen victim to the riot a few minutes into the chaos, I was shooting only with a 24mm f/3.5L Tilt-Shift which is not ideal for the type of shooting I needed to be doing. Regardless of all of this, I would have shot it again. Next time something like this happens, I will be mentally prepared and geared up appropriately. There is always something to be said about first experiences. Regardless, I snapped a few pictures that are quite thought provoking. I understand that my blog features Wedding and Portrait work most of the time, but know this: I am a photojournalist at heart. I approach everything I shoot with the idea that there is a story to be told and that significant moments are happening before my eyes. I live to capture this. I just wish that I was as mentally prepared and geared up for the riot as I always am for any Wedding I shoot. I have my thoughts about what happened after game seven, but that as an entire essay which I am not prepared to write just yet. What are your thoughts on the riots in Vancouver? Keep in mind that these are pure PhotoJ style photos and are untouched in the editing process, except for minor exposure adjustments and sharpening: