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Photographing a funeral

by Jim Beckel Modified: April 18, 2013 at 12:26 pm •  Published: June 21, 2010
Chelsie Jirtle, 5, holds a flag given to her by soldiers as the casket for her father, U.S. Army SPC Charles Scott Jirtle, is removed, Wednesday, June 16, 2010 in Lawton, Okla.. Hundreds of mourners came to First Baptist East Church in Lawton to attend the funeral  Jirtle, 29, of Lawton was killed June 7, 2010 in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan.  (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel) ORG XMIT: OKOKL101
Chelsie Jirtle, 5, holds a flag given to her by soldiers as the casket for her father, U.S. Army SPC Charles Scott Jirtle, is removed, Wednesday, June 16, 2010 in Lawton, Okla.. Hundreds of mourners came to First Baptist East Church in Lawton to attend the funeral Jirtle, 29, of Lawton was killed June 7, 2010 in the Kunar Province of Afghanistan. (AP Photo/The Oklahoman, Jim Beckel) ORG XMIT: OKOKL101

Last week, Staff Photographer Jim Beckel covered a funeral for Charles Scott Jirtle. He contributes these thoughts about the event:

As a father, this image of a young girl clutching an American flag behind her father’s casket was one of the most difficult photographs I’ve ever taken.  When I was younger, it was easier for me to remain detached from my subjects at this type of assignment. The passing years have brought not only wisdom, but the understanding that as a person, the emotions of my subjects often affect my emotions, and as a journalist my job is more complicated than simply observing and documenting. I still do the same job, but now I sometimes have to focus my lens through the tears.

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by Jim Beckel
Photographer
Jim Beckel been a member of The Oklahoman's photo staff for 25 years. During that time, he and his cameras have covered virtually every type of news and feature story imaginable, traveling to all regions of Oklahoma to document events and provide...
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