Wails of loved ones pierced the air from behind the police tape as the remains of Lisa Washington and son Tyrese Jones, 2, were carried from the charred entrance of an East Oliver Street home in Baltimore one morning last week.
A woman's cries and pleas found the ears of the firefighters, police, bystanders and journalists.
She was angry that others escaped the blaze while the toddler perished. She was consoled as she stared into her cellular phone at photos of Tyrese, tears welling in her eyes.
Such moments are among the most painful for photojournalists, who must invade the privacy of victims at the moment of their greatest pain to capture the crushing reality on camera.
How do you train your lens on such a scene, focus on the subject, and photograph her agony?
David Lewis, once the director of photography at The Sun, consoled me when I broke down after covering a lightning strike that killed several people enjoying an outing on the beach at Ocean City years ago. I felt guilty and helpless then, also.
Our job is to capture moments in time, no matter how beautiful or tragic, Lewis told me. We are historians. The very moment when many choose to turn away is when we have to do our best. That's the job of a photojournalist.