Action Photographer Helps Idyllwild

Fire near Black Mountain Sunday. Photo courtesy Jenny Kirchner.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The emergency dispatch call came in at 2:53 a.m. Sunday, Jan. 8. There was a fire burning on Hwy. 243 off Black Mountain Road near Pine Cove.

By 3:30 a.m., she was on the scene taking pictures next to the fire trucks. By 5 a.m., she had posted two of the best fire photos on Facebook and emailed them as a warning to others.

She also sent copies to the Idyllwild Town Crier and other media outlets to post on their web sites as “Breaking News.”

You could say that Idyllwild freelance photographer Jenny Kirchner thrives on chaos.

She spent three years as the main photographer for the Idyllwild Town Crier covering fires, accidents, natural disasters, and crime. At that time, she was using all of her own equipment, but purchased a police scanner and GPS device to help her to be first on the scene.

However, it was her “softer” photos of Idyllwild School kids playing soccer that won her national journalism awards.

Now that she’s a freelancer, Jenny can’t stay away from the natural disasters. Her best friend, Jill, is a dispatch operator in the desert who lets her know when things are unfolding.

“It’s a thrill being so close as things are happening,” Jenny admits. “But I also like knowing that my photos are helping people.”

She remembers grumbling to herself at 5 a.m., with no sleep, that people better check their emails about the fire in the morning.

The fire photos she sent out went to homeowners in the area, and van drivers from Idyllwild Arts Academy who were going down the hill early Sunday morning. (Jenny is also a part-time van driver for Idyllwild Arts). Julia Countryman is both a homeowner and a van driver.

Jenny captured the intensity of the fire in the early morning. Photo courtesy Jenny Kirchner.

“I saw Jenny’s pictures before I left for Ontario Airport Sunday morning,” Julie said. “And told my daughter that if the fire comes over the ridge, we’re evacuating.”

Since Jenny’s posting, there were several reports of the fire online, but none had her spectacular shots.

Even though it was dark at 3:30 a.m., Jenny managed to get both the blue skies overhead with the fire’s orange and yellow intensity, and the scrubby brown brush below.

In the second photo, Jenny captured the wind as it moved the fire along. She was at a safe distance, but everyone knows how quickly winds can change to move the fire in another direction. Gusts were reported up to 60 mph that day.

She sent the Idyllwild Town Crier her fire photos as a “professional courtesy” for them to use on its web site. They gave her photo credit and are in the process of negotiating a freelance contract.

Obviously, they know the value of a local photographer who is willing to bypass danger, give up sleep and take awesome action photos for them.

In addition, Jenny posts her fire photos and those of other disasters on her own web site, www.jennykphoto.com. The web site generates commissions to do other photography work. She likes covering sports events, she says, but would rather not do weddings.¬†Perhaps they’re not exciting or dangerous enough?

Jenny Kirchner’s fire photos can be found on her web site, www.jennykphoto.com, and the Idyllwild Town Crier’s web site, www.towncrier.com.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Published on: Jan 10, 2012 @ 12:39

 


the attachments to this post:

Jenny captured the intensity of the fire in the early morning. Photo courtesy Jenny Kirchner.
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Fire near Black Mountain Sunday. Photo courtesy Jenny Kirchner.
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