Photographer and Assistant Seriously Injured In Photo Shoot Explosion

Jun 12, 2015

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

Photographer and Assistant Seriously Injured In Photo Shoot Explosion

Jun 12, 2015

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

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Unfortunately, accidents do happen, even in the world of photography. Sometimes they incur only minor setbacks, sometimes it’s very costly. And, other times, they can be life-threatening. That is the reality for photographer Helmut Montoya and a production assistant who were both injured on Tuesday when a photo shoot in a Fort Lauderdale junk yard went awry causing an explosion. According to sources, the crew was using candles on set, and it is believed that the flames incidentally ignited lingering fuel vapors in nearby cans, setting things off.

“He’s got a fever because his body is trying to fight the burns,” stated Montoya’s wife while speaking to a news crew outside the hospital. She called the incident a “freak accident” and hopes for a recovery of both her husband and his assistant. She claims that “everything was approved” and there was not illegal trespassing involved.

montoya-burn-01

While Montoya may have a long and painful recovering ahead of him, his assistant is fighting for her life. According to NBC Miami, the injured PA and mother of two was trapped under a vehicle and unable to escape despite Montoya’s attempts to rescue her. Still in critical condition, it was confirmed that she suffered severe burns over 85% of her body. Statistically, burns over 80%-90% of the body surface have a 73% mortality rate.

Shoot Safety

We have all been enthralled by the dynamic images of extreme photo shoots, and I’m reminded of many fire-inspired shoots I’ve seen from Benjamin Von Wong. But, no image is worth risking the lives of others, whether they be models, assistants, or yourself. All possible precautions should be taken. As the photographer in charge of a set, it is your responsibility to not make last-minute unsafe requests of those involved. And, when potentially-dangerous scenarios are in play, all parties should have a clear understanding of the situation, the risks, and their respective responsibilities as it relates to their safety and the safety of those around them.

My advice is, if you are planning a shoot that involves some hairy situations, get some legal counsel and be sure that everyone is adequately informed and has signed paperwork stating their informed consent. You don’t want to put people on the spot the day of your shoot.

I am in no way saying that there was any willful negligence or stupidity involved in this particular case. Freak accidents happen, and we hope and pray for a full recovering. But, when an accident can be avoided, it is your responsibility to take the steps necessary to do so.

[via SLR Lounge]

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Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery

Allen Mowery is a Nationally-published Commercial & Editorial Photographer with over 20 years of experience. He has shot for major brands as well small clients. When not shooting client work or chasing overgrown wildlife from his yard, he loves to capture the stories of the people and culture around him.

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6 responses to “Photographer and Assistant Seriously Injured In Photo Shoot Explosion”

  1. Jonathan Donovan Avatar
    Jonathan Donovan

    Wishing both a speedy recovery.

  2. Richard Murillo Avatar
    Richard Murillo

    So sad to hear that happened. I hope they get well soon.

  3. Kaouthia Avatar
    Kaouthia

    “But, no image is worth risking the lives of others, whether they be models, assistants, or yourself.”

    Or clients! I see so many people taking stupid risks with clients on shoots almost every day as I watch the feeds scroll by on Facebook.

  4. Milad Tangshir Avatar
    Milad Tangshir

    Fabio Calza

  5. Travis Alex Avatar
    Travis Alex

    one thing a lot of people don’t realize about using fire in photo shoots, is that most people who are manipulating fire in the ways that Ben von Wong does, has experience with fire safety in the fire spinning arts.

    I myself have taken on the hobby of fire spinning, & I can personally tell you, that nothing about spinning fire or manipulating fire is a safe practice. It takes months of experience to be able to feel confident and in control with fire, especially multitasking it during photo shoots.

    I am just now scratching the surface of using fire torches and fire fans for manipulated fine art portraits. It’s not an easy task, and not something people should take lightly.

    I’m very sorry to hear this happen to someone, I’m glad I didn’t get killed though.

  6. Craig Harris Avatar
    Craig Harris

    Sad news, but they should have considered the explosion risk and avoided this incident.
    Be safe out there people!