Meet The Photographers
The photographers featured in this book come from different backgrounds, have differing life experiences, but all are driven to make remarkable photographs (and some video) of fire. Their stories are as valuable as their photographs.
Brandy Carlos AKA FirePhotoGirl
I have been a professional photographer for over 10 years. My passion for photography in emergency services has led me into an incredible life long journey of providing photos and videos of incidents real time to first responders and the communities they serve. I have gained experience and knowledge from working in the Fire Service for many years, and that has helped me to achieve becoming a full time Photo Journalist today.
I started shooting fire quite by accident, actually. I used to have a point and shoot camera and started taking shots while out hiking. My kids bought me a DSLR for Christmas about 8 years ago because they liked my nature pictures.
I had been co-organizing the annual LAPD/LAFD St. Baldrick’s event since about 2003, and got to know several photographers who would show up every year. We got to talking about fire photography, and it sounded interesting.
The guys suggested I might enjoy shooting wildfire, as they knew of my interest in nature photography, and it worked out for me to join them at the Powerhouse Fire in 2013. I was immediately hooked. The heat, the sound, the interaction between fire and the landscape, the heroic efforts by fire fighters on the ground and in the air all converged to make me feel like I had found a calling to document those events. I have a keen interest in fire aviation and shoot both fixed wing and rotorcraft whenever I can.
I have always been passionate about public safety. As a child, I dreamed of growing up to become a firefighter or police officer. In my 20s, I developed a passion for photography and slowly started to merge the two interests together.
I started to build relationships with local photojournalists as well as the first responders themselves, often sharing photos with local fire departments and news outlets. I volunteer my time and efforts to tell the stories of our local heroes, with my primary goal being public awareness. I figure that if these first responders are going to risk their lives to ensure the safety of my family and my community, the least I can do is tell their story and help the general public realize just how amazing they really are. That, and I still enjoy the adrenaline rush of getting out there and being in the middle of the action when something is going down.
For the last 40 years I have worked as a professional photographer shooting motocross, cycling, and rock concerts. I’ve held staff positions as a photo editor, assistant editor, and senior editor for many publications.
I’ve always had a passion for documenting large scale emergencies when they occur, capturing events on the front line that the public would never see otherwise. From brush fires to train accidents, I’ve done them all.
My brushfire photos have been published by most major news media websites and one of my images of the Metrolink train accident was requested for the cover of the LAFD 2015 annual report.
I always look for “the moment” when something is taking place that most people don’t get a chance to see. The key is to know your lane, and to stay clear of firefighters doing their job, and don’t put yourself at risk. Even so, the Woolsey fire burned a respect for wildfire deep into my soul.
My interest in photography started when I was growing up and developed a love for the fire service. I was chasing fires on my bike and wanted to show what I was doing. I started out with a Polaroid in 1967, and acquired my first Nikon F in 1970.
I was mentored by some of the best photographers, Boris Yaro, Joel Lugavere, and George Fry to name a few. I was hired by LAFD in 1973, and continued shooting pictures throughout my 39 year career with LAFD and my current position as a Fire Captain for La Habra Heights Fire Department.
I have been published in the Los Angeles Times, Herald Examiner, Daily News, UPI, AP and The Signal SCV. I have also been well published in many fire and EMS publications (Firehouse, Fire Engineering, Paramedics International) and newspapers around the globe.
I’ve been a professional photographer for 40 years. I worked for the Los Angeles Times as a breaking news photographer and retired in 1996, but still shoot for newspapers and magazines. Most of my news shooting has been fires, both structure and brush, plus a wide variety of other fires.
Ever since I had my first fire (it was a 4-story apartment house —I was working for the L.A. Times), I’ve been hooked. I’ve had thousands of fire photos published and one thing I have always noticed – every fire has been different. It doesn’t matter if it’s a car, structure, brush fires, no two are alike. Fires, to me, are spectacular and offer numerous angles to shoot them from. I can’t imagine doing anything else.
I used to carry a heavy, cumbersome camera bag with at least three body’s and numerous lenses in it along with 20 to 20 rolls of film but with the years of improvements in photo equipment I now use just one camera (Nikon) with a Tamron 18 to 400 zoom lens. On big, usually brush fires, I’ll take an extra body and lens, with two additional batteries. I carry brush boots and a brush jacket in my car.
My father taught me how to process negatives and prints in a darkroom when I was eight years old and from then on I was hooked. I started taking photos of air tankers in 1964 as a kid with a Kodak box camera until I bought my first 35mm camera back in 1968 and have been shooting ever since. Although I retired eight years ago from my “bread & butter” career as running an engineering department for a water municipality, most of my free and spare time was either spent over fires or in fires shooting video and stills.
From 1993-97 I did AD work (as designated) for the US Forest Service (and the ATGS (Air Attack Group Supervisor) shooting video and stills over fires out of Forest Service Air Attack 12 & 07 as well as CDF Air Attack 310 & 410 From their joint base at Ryan Air Attack in Hemet CA. When the Forest Service built their new tanker base at the San Bernardino Airport (formally Norton Air Force Base) because of my full time career commitment I wasn’t able to drive that distance all the time as well as every weekend, so in 1999 I decided to go through the training as a wildland firefighter (still part time of course) and earned my Red Card in order to shoot video and stills on the ground for the Forest Service Division Chief (Div. 5) on the BDF Idyllwild Ranger Dist.
In 2011 I was interviewed for a part time volunteer position with Cal Fire/Riverside County Fire as a photographer, that lasted till 2013 when I was asked by Phos-Chek, (the company that manufactures the fire retardant that’s dropped from air tankers on fires) if I was interested in shooting on the fire line for them (A paid position), and that’s what I’ve been doing during fire season ever since.