California Burns

Mike Meadows

photo of Mike Meadows

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.

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