How I Got the Photo – Lars Hagberg

2016 NPOY FEATURE, Finalist – Luke Carter, 7 years old, waves to Spiderman, Iron Man and Batman as the ‘super heroes’ clean windows at Kingston General Hospital in Kingston, Ontario, August 2, 2016. (Lars Hagberg / The Canadian Press)

First, I was only going to cover the story from outside the hospital but we managed to get permission from a Kingston General Hospital public relations person to go inside. She took us up to the paediatric floor where we had to wait until several kids arrived in the common room.

There were kids there who had been there a day, some a week, others longer than that. Some had broken legs, some were there for cancer treatment. As a father, it was really heartbreaking to see these children.

Before we could photograph anyone, we had to get permission from the parents. One family said no. Their son had started chemotherapy but they hadn’t informed any of their other family members yet and they didn’t want everyone to see their son with a bald head in the news.

Luke was one of the last kids to arrive in the common room. He was wheeled in a hospital bed since he wasn’t able to walk (he had been in a terrible ATV accident and had broken several bones in his body). I asked his parents for permission and they said yes right away.

Luke brought his own stuffed Batman teddy bear to show the super heroes. He was watching the window cleaners from afar and was holding on to his teddy bear very tightly.

They were just about to wrap things up when a nurse suggested that they push Luke’s bed closer to the window so he could get a closer look. At the same time, the window-washing super heroes were coming together, kind of like a group picture, and Luke raised his unbroken arm and waved to them. Everything came together at that point.

Technically it was a little difficult because the outside had beautiful summer clouds but if you exposed for them everything else would be pitch black inside. I didn’t want to have a big flash reflection in the big windows. It took me a few minutes to play around with the flash settings until I got it where I wanted it to properly exposure for both the hospital bed and the outside.

It was such a wonderful gesture from the window cleaning company and it brought so many smiles and memories to the kids that day.


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