Post-Dispatch photographer David Carson came to speak to over 600 student journalists and advisors on March 9, at the Sponsors of School Publications Conference about his time in Ferguson after the death of Mike Brown.
Carson went to Ferguson after receiving a tweet about the shooting from Twitter. He headed to the scene where the police were already washing away the blood. He assumed things were finished at that point, which was an assumption he made several times while photographing the protests. Then people started to gather in the area to remember Brown and pray for him.
He took pictures of the people who came. Carson warned the students they should try to ask if it’s okay to take pictures of people who are grieving, though he said you can usually feel in the moment when it is. He also reminded the students to get the names of the people they take pictures of. Only having a Ram’s Rooster in his pocket at the time, Carson wrote his names on that.
“Don’t get hung up on the equipment it,” Carson said continuing his experiences with the protests and riots by showing a video a fellow reporter took on an iPhone of protesters walking towards a police car and forcing it to retreat. Other videos he showed included people yelling, “We are Michael Brown.”
Carson was outside the Quick Trip in Ferguson just before it was burned. He went inside as some people came in to loot the store. He took pictures of them then headed out. Right before the Quick Trip was set on fire, he heard someone say, “‘Hey, he’s taking pictures. Get him.’” He began to run away from the area to be safe from the crowd.
“I caution you that there are some times you should not go there,” Carson said about younger journalists going to Ferguson. He said the students should work with a buddy and make sure to tell their parents where they are going.