David Becker said he strives for honesty and compassion in his day-to-day work as a photojournalist.
And the night of Oct. 1, 2017, was no different, he said during a panel discussion Friday night at UNLV.
In the few months leading up to the one-year anniversary of the Route 91 Harvest music festival mass shooting, Becker wanted to know how the images he captured that night affected the subjects on the other side of his camera lens.
“So I decided to, a few months ago, reach out to some of those people who were pictured in my photographs,” Becker told an audience of about 90 people.
He’s contacted six people to date, with plans to talk to more. Most, he said, have “truly appreciated” the photos.
“It has helped them to heal,” Becker said. “It has helped them to recover. One woman said it has put a stamp on the event for her. She can look at it and say, ‘That was me, and this is what I’ve been through.’”
Becker and four other panelists, including Deborah Kuhls, director of the trauma intensive care unit at University Medical Center, and Clark County Coroner John Fudenberg, shared their experiences from the night of Oct. 1 and how they’ve grown in the year since the tragedy.
For Kuhls, who is also a professor of surgery at the UNLV School of Medicine, the shooting has further ignited her passion to spread firearm safety information and to prevent firearm deaths.
“Even though I treat the injured, I’m very interested in preventing injury,” she said. “After about 10 years of being an attending surgeon in this business, it was like, enough is enough. I just see one person shot after another, and other types of violent injuries.”
Fudenberg, who was working “25 hours” a day during the week of Oct. 1 last year, said he’s learned the importance of having a balanced life.
Staying healthy both physically and mentally, he said, should be a priority, and it’s also important to have hobbies and friends outside of work.
“The people who haven’t lived a balanced life are struggling even more so than others,” Fudenberg said, adding that it’s healthy to cry. “I’ve become a lot more emotional after this.”