Wednesday, March 3, 2010

The Broken Arm, by Sam Hassas

We are very grateful to have the ridiculously talented image maker/story teller, Sam Hassas, guest blog this week on The Family Photojournalist. As we have mentioned before, effective family photojournalism documents moments (even the ones that hurt) as they happen. Sam's entry below is one of the best examples I have seen in this category.

I strongly urge you to check out his website...but be sure carve out an hour of time before you do so....yes, his photographs are that good! Sam Hassas Website


While on a shoot during the summer last year, I get the call all parents fear. "Your son's been hurt, he's broken his arm."

I've never had to cancel a shoot while in mid action but that day I did. I bag all my gear, toss it in the trunk and head down to the emergency ward at Good Samaritan in San Jose. It's about a 30-minute drive and these are my thoughts. I've never been the type of photographer to carry my gear with me everywhere I go. Vacations, Holidays and work is about all. Today was different. Against my natural feelings of leaving my camera in the bag, I brought it with me. Now, looking back over these images 2 dozen times the past 8 months, I have never doubted in my choice to document since.

I arrive to a worried mother and an ambulant son. Up till now, he has been given no meditation. He's scared. In pain? I'm not sure. Perhaps the adrenaline rush is coving the pain. Ex-rays are taken...we sit and wait.

Greeted by a doctor, he informs us that Ethan has a compound fracture. The bone was completely broken and was protruding through the flesh. He speaks in high valuating doctor gibberish for about 5 minutes. We understand the procedures needed only slightly. My son understands nothing. The doctor walks out and begins preparations.

Ethan has a nervous look on his face and feels the inevitable.

"daddy, what happen to my arm?"

"you broke it bubba"

broken voice "can you fix it?"

I wiped lots of tears while looking through the lens, almost to the point of setting the camera down. Here’s Ethan's story:

This is the scene I walked in on.

my mommy, my lizard

boy socks.

protected. resilient.


the break

the parent

the inevitable

the relief

Post surgery. He see’s light at the end of the tunnel and his first smile appears.

the return

This shot is very special to my wife and I. 4 years ago she was wheeled out of this same hospital door with a brand new Ethan to introduce to the world.

the endurance

the next day while we are at home. The fan fair is over and the trail towards healing is paved…..not without it’s pain however

the “good” arm


The only shot I chose to show in color. It seemed fitting.


  1. Good to see Sam's work on the blog. I'm glad you documented this Sam. I think it's important to remember the good and the bad. Great storytelling.

    Jonathan Fletcher

  2. Great post...this set feels totally at home in this blog. The pictures really drew me in.

    Thanks for sharing

  3. Sam Hassas is incredible. His work is impeccable and his documentary storytelling simply riveting. Dynamite post.

  4. Made me cry too. beautiful shots sam.

  5. Made me cry too... Great, great post..

    I love this blog!

  6. Fantastic Sam! I know these images must have been excruciatingly difficult to take under these conditions, but you have some truly moving photos of your adorable son and I'm glad he's feeling better :)

  7. Sam, I have looked at these pictures several time before and they still make me cry. Such emotion!