On June 16, 2016 instructor and Hallmark graduate, Derrick Zellmann (2012) presented his portrait series "Facing the Fire" at a one day pop-up gallery in Millers Falls, Massachusetts. The show and artist's talk was a chance to see his authentic portraits of firefighters and also served as a fund raising event for two charities: Boston Firefighters Local 718 Children's Fund and The Leary Firefighters Foundation.
Mr. Zellmann started the project after a tragic event in 2014 that took the lives of two firefighters. During the news coverage, he noticed that the photos of the fallen firefighters were cropped snapshots, and Derrick felt they deserved professional portraits that showed the full depth of the individuals.
“I wanted to give people the opportunity to look them right in the eye,
” said Zellmann, who grew up in Turners Falls, Massachusetts. “These guys are just human, too. They do this incredible job, but they are everyday people, your neighbor, your cousin. I wanted to create the feeling of being in the room with them and make them look as iconic as they are.”
Compiled over two years in firehouses across Boston and Rhode Island, the project takes inspiration from iconic statues of Greek and Roman Warriors. The photos aim to capture a raw, authentic and up-close-andpersonal look at the faces of real-life heroes. The portraits are of the men and women in their firefighting gear, holding axes, wearing helmets. They capture the full spectrum of diversity in firefighting. Using only available light and by taking the time to talk with his subjects about their careers and lives, he captured emotionally rich portraits that are printed in black and white.
Derrick is no stranger to the subject. His father is a captain on the Turners Falls Fire Department, so he grew up surrounded by firefighters and even spent 12 years as an on-call firefighter himself.
As of now, the project doesn’t have an endpoint. What began with him visiting a couple fire stations here and there, has expanded and he now has over 100 photos. He hopes that the photography project will grow into a book.
Read more on recorder.com and derrickzellmann.com