"Fire Brain": "What It's Like to Photograph the West's Biggest Wildfires"

"Josh Edelson has shot some of the most iconic images of increasing destructive wildfires. Earther spoke with him about his work."

"The West has been primed to burn at a moment when more people than ever have moved to some of the most dangerous forests on Earth. The result has been an endless stream of horror stories and images: houses on fires, dead animals, ecosystems upended, people crying when they realize they lost everything, drone shots of neighbors completely leveled to the ground. The photographers who brave firestorms and capture moments of grief are essentially our eyes into the hellish reality for millions of people in the West.

Here at Earther, we’ve published photos from numerous wire photographers, but there’s one whose name kept popping up. Josh Edelson is a photographer whose work on Getty (care of AFP) regularly captured my eye, and the eye of photo editors, politicians, and the public around the world. Take the image at the top of this post, which Edelson shot during last year’s historic California firestorm. It graced an Earther story, was tweeted by Hillary Clinton, and turned into a meme to mock Nancy Pelosi. That photo along with a slew of other images from his wildfire coverage are finalists for the first annual Covering Climate Now awards, and the winner is slated to be announced on Wednesday.

With another brutal wildfire season roaring across the West, I wanted to know what it took to make such striking images and what Edelson hopes people take away from his work in an age where megafires have become the norm due to the climate crisis and decades of forest mismanagement. He told me about the “fire brain” that impacts him when he gets back from covering a blaze and more. Our lightly edited conversation and many, many more of his photos are below."

Brian Kahn reports for Earther October 5, 2021.

Source: Earther, 10/06/2021