OUR FIRST INSTINCT is to run away. But the pictures
are not away from it - they are in it." Steve Shelton ignored
his fear and pushed against the flow of panicked civilians
clawing to escape the mayhem and skin-searing tear gas that
hung in a mushroom cloud over downtown Seattle.
THE TENSION surrounding the World Trade Organization
conference had been mounting for days, and sensing a riot,
Shelton pulled out a gas mask he had bought while covering
the Middle East a few years earlier.
THE GAS MASK came in handy as pandemonium broke loose.
Riot police hit the scene. Tear gas canisters were volleyed
back and forth like hot potatoes, and Shelton could feel the
stinging gas seeping beneath his mask.
"YOU HAVE TO FOCUS. There is a flow you have to be
in. Like the waves and swells in the ocean. You have to be
aware of what is around you. The sea of people. The rhythm.
You stay on top by keeping your wits. It lasts a few minutes
and then it is over, but it is those few minutes that you're
supposed to capture on film."