The Photos I Never Shared from the Boston Marathon Bombing

One year ago today, I was caught in the middle of tragedy when I covered Marathon Monday for my photojournalism class. I never expected to find myself less than a mile away from two explosions, worrying for my classmates and the runners I had just spent my day tracking to the finish line.

One year ago today, I was faced with the hardest decision of my (short!) journalistic career. A decision that some professionals haven’t even been faced with thus far. One year later, I’m proud to say I pushed through emotion to cover an event that will go down in history.

After my class project on the marathon ended, I shoved my work out of my mind. I had no desire to relive the events of such a challenging day. So today, I’m sharing my Boston Marathon 2013 photos for the first time.

For class, I was part of a group staggered throughout the race to cover 2 specific runners running for Bottom Line, a charity here in Boston. We even photographed our runners as they prepared for the race.


One of our runners, Michelle, at a pasta dinner the weekend before the marathon.

I spent my morning at Boston College’s Heartbreak Hill, watching the elite runners pass by and tracking my subjects, Michelle and Ginnie. IMG_6652Tatyana McFadden, the Women’s top Wheel chair division finisher, races down Heartbreak Hill.IMG_6760Renee Killian, waits for her dad, Peter, to run by at the Bottom of Heartbreak Hill.IMG_6864A group of elite runners, from left to right, Kara Goucher, Sharon Cherop, Akemi Oaska, Tirfi Tsegaye, Meseret Hailu, Rita Jeptoo, and Shalane Flanagan run down Heartbreak Hill. Jeptoo finished as the top Woman overall, Flanagan was the top American Woman, and the fourth Woman.IMG_6899Svetlana Pretot, 41, an elite runner from France, shows off for the crowd at Heartbreak Hill.IMG_6916Gina Slaby, a Navy lieutenant turned marathon runner passes by a group of soldiers at Heartbreak Hill.IMG_6949A group of elite runners, from left to right, Dickson Chumba, Gebremariam, Gebregziabher, Levy Matebo, Lelisa Desisa, and Michah Kogo at Heartbreak Hill. In the men’s overall division, Desisa finished first, Kogo second, and Gebregziabher third.IMG_6971Jason Hartmann, the top American man to finish the Boston Marathon and fourthmanoverall, runspast a group of U.S. Armysoldiers at Heartbreak Hill.IMG_7060Gene Carter, pushes Paul Appleby, who has cerebral palsey down Heartbreak Hill. They are one of four wheelchair-push teams who ran in the marathon.IMG_7221Laurie Copeland is joined by a group of cheering Boston College students at Heartbreak Hill. This photo, more than any other, represents the cheerful mood of my morning. IMG_7232After Michelle passed me at Heartbreak Hill (mile 21), I snapped the above photo, I left to head to the finish line.

When the train I was on got to Kenmore Square, we were evacuated with no explanation. I ran towards the finish line, hoping to photograph Michelle. Instead, I found myself inside a pack of runners who had been stopped less than a mile away from Copley Square. IMG_7271 IMG_7277As runners stopped by mile 25 waited to hear news about the bombing and find their family and friends, many found whatever they could to keep them warm.IMG_7280After the runners who didn’t finish the race started leaving, I headed back to Kenmore Square. Although I wasn’t able to connect with either of my runners, I contacted Ginnie’s boyfriend. He told me he was meeting her outside UNO’s and I was lucky to arrive before she did to capture this  moment.In Love with a Runner

Ultimately, neither of my runners were able to finish the marathon. But both were safe and reunited with their families.


All photos (c) Rebecca Shinners



When Photojournalism Introduces me to New People

This semester, I am taking Advanced Photojournalism, a graduate level class that requires me to produce a new photo story each week. To help us start out, my teacher assigned us a project to go to the Boston Common and find a story. Although I may have previously been nervous to go to the park, completely unsure of what I was going to shoot, I did just that. I ended up photographing a henna tattoo artist who refers to himself at “The Great Da’oud.”

Speaking to Da’oud was surprisingly fun and interesting. He seemed so happy to have me there and asked me about myself as well. What I love most about Da’oud is his willingness to help the others struggling in the park around him. There are 4 balloon artists, but only 1 henna artist, he told me. They compete with one another, but he helps them by bringing them sandwiches and selling some of their balloons. Over the 3 days I spent shooting him in the park, I came to admire his optimism and generosity. Photojournalism is constantly giving me the opportunity to meet people, like Da’oud who I would not have encountered otherwise. It allows me to take a peek into people’s lives and share their stories.

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Not to be forgotten, my new friends didn’t let me leave without a gift. One of the balloon artists, Marty, made me a flower balloon bracelet. I’m proud to say I showed up at work that day wearing it!


See the full story on my class blog here


Vogue Embraces Social Media with their First Instagram Photo Shoot

When I tell people I’m a journalism major, I don’t always get the most enthusiastic response from my peers. Usually, it’s somewhere between a polite smile and a nod, while black and white images of newspapers come floating into their heads. “Who reads newspapers anymore?” they tend to say.

Whether I’m an avid newspaper lover or not, I completely disagree that journalism is a dying field. With new advances in technology and social media coming out daily, journalism is thriving and expanding like never before. Those who think my future profession is dying have a narrow view of journalism.

This is why I could not have been happier when I saw Vogue’s first Instagram photo shoot. The photos were shot in NYC by Michael O’Neal and edited with nothing but a Nashville filter. #VogueInstaFashion is made up of 3 mini stories: #wednesdaybreakmyheat, onestopshopnyc, and #sleepwalksnewyork. After this photo shoot and Anna Wintour’s recent Instagram debut, the magazine has shown its willingness to embrace social media.

When I go to a photo shoot, I bring my camera in one hand and my iPhone in another. My camera is my primary tool of choice, but between every few snaps of my shutter, I give my camera a break to let my iPhone take its place. On my way home to process my digital images, I post my camera phone photos on Instagram and Facebook for instant feedback. Technology is not ruining photojournalism, it’s making the field faster and more accessible.

To those of you who worry that apps like Instagram will replace our DSLR cameras, what are you afraid of? Instagram is an excellent assistant to your beloved Nikon or Cannon. Whether it becomes the preferred medium or not, the most important thing should always be strong photography, as Vogue proved in their shoot.