When I tell people I take pictures of fire hydrants, or they see my photographs of fire hydrants, I occasionally get asked how I got into that. After a comment from a friend recently, I had a realization that, while I have told many people my story behind getting into photographing fire hydrants, I have never posted this story anywhere. It’s time to fix that. Haha.
I have always been interested in fire fighting and fire trucks. The tiny town I lived in until I was 14 (Basin, WY) would sound a siren when there was a fire to alert the volunteer firefighters. I remember going outside when the siren would sound to see if I could get a glimpse of the fire trucks headed to the fire. Fire trucks were always the highlight of parades (along with the candy). At some point, probably around middle-school age, my parents got a scanner that I could listen to. My senior year of high school I had the opportunity to take an EMT-B course as one of my electives. As part of that course I got to hang out at the fire department and go on ride-alongs in the ambulance. I absolutely loved spending time at the fire department.
After graduating high school I considered going into fire fighting, but in the end I decided to pursue studying meteorology at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, OK. At some point during high school I ended up with a portable scanner and took this to college with me. During my freshman year of college I received my first camera as a Christmas gift. It wasn’t long before I found my passion for photography, and then found a fun way to merge photography and fire fighting: fire chasing. Think storm chasing, but with fires. Haha. If I had my scanner on and heard a call go out for a fire in Norman, and I was free and thought it would be a good fire to go to, I would hop in my car and drive to the fire in hopes of getting some photos of the firefighters fighting the fire.
While there were a few fires that allowed me to get some cool pictures, there were a lot of instances when I came away with nothing. On July 25, 2011 I drove out to a fire and by the time I got there the fire was already out. It was a bit of a drive to get to the fire, so I was looking around trying to figure out some sort of picture I could get to make the trip worthwhile. I got the picture below, thinking it was really cool having the hydrant in use with the fire engine in the background. While it seemed like just another picture at the time, some sort of switch flipped in my mind after that picture and I got the idea that fire hydrants might be a fun subject to photograph, and thus my interest in fire hydrant photography was born.
Lots of people do landscape photography, so I see fire hydrants as a way to provide something unique and set myself apart. I love going on fire hydrant road trips where I pick a few towns to go explore to see if I can find some cool fire hydrant pictures. It has taken me to places I probably never would have visited if it weren’t for the fire hydrant photography. Whenever I’m somewhere new I’m always on the lookout for some fire hydrants to photograph. Between differences in hydrants and their backgrounds, each hydrant is unique, although not every hydrant provides a photo I’m interested in, which makes the road trips kind of like a treasure hunt. I often wonder what is going through peoples’ minds when they see me out photographing fire hydrants. Haha.
Anyway, if you were curious about why I take pictures of fire hydrants, there you have it. If you happen to have any suggestions on fire hydrants I should photograph, I would love to hear from you, and I might very well give it a try if I’m in the area.