Reporters’ notebooks: dateline 2014 Arnold Lim

Memorable stories reaffirm how fortunate I am to do what I do

Kristine Chamberlain and her eight-year-old daughter Savannah at the playground at Colwood Elementary school.

Looking back over my archive for 2014, I have many fond memories of the stories I have covered, and more importantly, the people I have met working as a photojournalist for the News Gazette.

While there are more than I can count or fit into a column, as the year winds down, a handful of indelible memories stand out for me. They include meeting Kristine Chamberlain and her eight-year-old daughter, Savannah.

On May 29, they met me at Colwood elementary, where they had begun fundraising to purchase wheelchair-accessible playground equipment for four wheelchair-bound students at the school including Savannah, who suffers from a severe form of epilepsy.

She couldn’t access the sand-based playground. Hearing the conviction in Kristine’s voice, as she explained how her daughter was unintentionally excluded from activities, really hit home for me.

The love she shared with her daughter as they embraced, the way she held her and communicated with her without words, and how badly she wanted the best for her daughter, touched me and I couldn’t help feeling for her.

As a photographer, my goal is always to make people feel when I take the photograph, and this simple shot is one of my favourites from 2014. I only need to see this photo to help me remember their love and I still look back to this when my spirits are low.

There isn’t a day that goes by I don’t feel lucky to do what I do, but on another day in late July, I remember not feeling quite so fortunate after being called out to an accident scene July 29.

An elderly lady driving in a parking lot had hit a parked car and proceeded to run over a curb and hit a young girl who was walking along the sidewalk with her mother.

When I arrived on the scene with my camera, a friend of the elderly lady saw me taking photographs and ran out to confront me, meeting me with a seething diatribe, claiming I “profit off the misery of others,” before driving away and loudly calling me a “cockroach” several times in front of police officers, firemen and people that had gathered nearby.

When people get hurt, I don’t want to be there any more than anyone else, but I am doing my job and can’t shy away from it just because people don’t understand or agree with what I am doing.

It wasn’t long after that I was afforded the opportunity to ride in the ALS Cycle of Hope in August, and later I participated as a photo-grapher for the Cops for Cancer Tour de Rock.

Raising money and awareness for families affected by ALS and cancer provided more career highlights for me. Having ridden the Tour de Rock in 2013, I appreciated the journey more so than when I rode it, and meeting the great people along the way afforded me the opportunity to see and quietly appreciate the strength and resiliency of children and families that I sometimes don’t see in myself.

Over the many years as a photojournalist, I have learned being a documentarian doesn’t mean you can’t or won’t feel along the way, just because you are there to be a witness.

In fact, I understand now it may take more to confront the emotional ups and downs during an eventful year than not. I’m grateful for this year, which gave me many of those moments. I can’t wait to see what 2015 has in store.

alim@goldstreamgazette.com