Wednesday, September 10, 2008

A Community Says Goodbye

The last week has been pretty intense here in Fairfield. Matt Garcia, a young, loved and well know city councilman was killed when a unknown gunman shot him in the head a week ago. The police have yet to turn up any leads in the homicide case. My newspaper has been covering each day as it unfolded. As an outsider new to the area, it has been amazing to watch as this town has come together to support not only the fallen but his grieving family that was left behind. Throughout the week, there have been numerous virgils and ceremonies in addition to the funeral yesterday that I helped cover for the paper. I wanted to share some of my images here. It is my hope that these photographs convey not so much the sorrow of a community but rather (and more importantly) the outpouring love and support of a community picking up one of their own. It was something special to see how many people a 22-year-old councilman could leave an impression on in such a short amount of time.


  1. How did you get the shot of the casket as it was being lowered off the car (with the crowd of people in the background)? Has the community felt the papers has covered the death and investigation with respect?

  2. The shot on the casket was a pre planned thing I set up prior to the start of the funeral service i.e. 10 minutes prior. I was on top of the fire engine right next to the casket. I got to this vantage point by talking with the Fairfield Fire Dept. pallbearers who were charged with escorting Matt Garica's body to the main stage. I told them what shot I was thinking of and convinced them that my intentions were not to exploit but to document and honor Matt. I was looking to make a picture that was different but one that could still convey story. After getting one of the guys to radio his chief I was given permission to get up there. I sat there next to Matt and the firefighters for a good 15 minutes telling stories about how we all knew him even if it was briefly. They knew my intentions were well meant and it was this access and trust that allowed me to make this image.

    The idea was to get an interesting shot of them lowering the casket when the bag pipes began playing. I stood up to take the picture when the firefighters did. It was only then that I rose to see Matt's entire family standing there waiting to walk him in to the stadium. This was a surprise to me because nobody was there when I climbed up and I remained hidden until the start of the ceremony. At that point you just need to finish what you intended to do. I started making pictures. And as it turns out the wall of family speaks volumes in the final picture. A sea of love and support for his final public appearance. I found it to be pretty powerful.

    I think our paper covered the story with the outmost respect and dignity. We have been getting hundreds of letters thanking us for the coverage we provided. I think we did our jobs well. I think the family would agree. They welcomed us into their lives at such a hard time for them and I think they knew we would do a good job. After all, Matt was a popular public figure and a friend to many people here at the paper. For more info on our coverage, go to our website.