Stepping out of my comfort zone

I’ve always been a timid person, afraid to try new things. I used to be afraid to fail or to step out of my comfort zone.

This year however, I decided to change that and journalism has been a huge help. This past Wednesday, journalism pushed me to do something new and difficult for me.

As I was driving home from class I got a phone call from advisor of The Spartan, David Blow. He told me there had been a car accident on Route 4A in Castleton that had just happened and asked me if I wanted to go photograph the accident and pitch it to the Rutland Herald. My first instinct was I wasn’t sure I wanted to, but I surprised myself and said “yes.”

So I headed back that way and parked my car the gas station at the Four Corners.

I walked toward the accident because the road had been closed off and I was feeling pretty confident – until I saw how many police cars there were and the two vehicles involved. It finally set in how new this was for me and how uncomfortable I felt.

I felt weird taking my phone out and taking pictures, even from a distance, and I felt like I was intruding on something.

I sent Dave my first few shots and he told me he thought I needed to get closer for the newspaper to use them. My heart started racing at the thought because I was afraid I would get yelled at for getting too close or I would be in the way.

I told him I would try to get closer since he assured me I was allowed to since I was representing the press. I got to where the police cars and now ambulances were surrounding the mangled Honda and the Castleton Community Center van involved in the crash.

I took a few more pictures and I even tried talking to first responders who got close enough to me, but no one would even look in my direction as I tried to get their attention.

People who had also walked toward the accident to find out what had happened told me what they knew and as family members of victims arrived on the scene, I got more information about the victims. The Honda carried two 13-year-old girls and a Castleton woman who were brought to the hospital with severe injuries. The driver of the van walked away without any injuries. The accident as a whole, pulled on my heart strings because it was tragic that this had happened.

After I left the scene with photos that I felt could have been better, I felt defeated. I felt like I had failed as a journalist because I was too afraid to push the boundary. I didn’t think that they would use my photos and I certainly didn’t have enough information about what had happened for them to write a story. I sent my photos anyway, hoping for the best.

The next day I checked the Rutland Herald’s website for the story and they had used one of my photos and it had made the front page in print. I was thrilled.

I read the stories published to see what information had been gathered about the crash by news outlets. The driver of the Honda had died and one of little girls had been airlifted to Dartmouth Hitchcock in critical condition. It was heartbreaking to read those words.

What I also discovered was WCAX didn’t have any photos of the crash so I offered the photos to them as well. They featured them on the 5 p.m. news and put them online with my name attached to them.

This whole experience taught me a lot. It taught me that even though I may not have done my best work, I still accomplished something and I tried something new. This was a situation that caused a lot of anxiety, but looking back, I’m so happy I did it because it challenged me in a new way and I learned from the experience.

-Brigitta Gough

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