Category: General News

At a public memorial today, I was photographing an honor guard transferring Spokane firefighter John Knighten’s casket from a fire truck to a funeral gurney. Capt. Mike Rose, one of the honor guard firefighters suddenly started to posture in front of the casket then collapsed. I reflexively fired off a burst of about six frames. It looked like the man was having a seizure. Paramedics arrived and quickly transported him to the hospital. The memorial went on without missing a beat. From a photojournalism perspective, this was the best moment I captured today. I’ve shot dozens of memorials in my career, but never witnessed anything like this. This photo did not make the newspaper or online gallery and I am fine with that. The story today was about remembering veteran firefighter John Knighten, 45, who died on June 30, 2013, after a three-year battle with cancer. I think publishing this photo in the newspaper would detract from that. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review, Nikon D4, Nikkor 24-12mm f/4

Update: Read: Terrifying Collapse in the Spokesman-Review. We interviewed Capt. Mike Rose about his firefighting career with the Spokane Fire Department and found out what happened that day when he collapsed during a funeral for a fellow firefighter.


I got lucky on this shot. Just as a walked up to the fire engine, the deputy chief started climbing to unwind the large flag that had twisted itself around the ladder in the wind. The firefighter gives the photo scale.  Nikon D4,  Nikkor 80-200 f/2.8 lens

Before a public memorial for the three Fairchild Air Force Base personnel, Capt. Mark Tyler Voss, Capt. Victoria Pinckney and Tech. Sgt. Herman “Tre” Mackey III, the patriots who lost their lives onboard a KC-135 that crashed May 3, Spokane Fire Department’s Deputy Chief Bob Hanna unfurls the American flag after it wrapped itself around the fire truck’s ladder it was displayed from, Tuesday, May 28, 2013, near the INB Performing Arts Center in Spokane, Wash. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review


A plot by two fifth graders at Fort Colville Elementary to kill a student was uncovered last week. The boys had brought a knife and a handgun to school and allegedly planned to carry out the murder of a fellow student. The plot was uncovered after a fourth grader, who witnessed one of the boys handling the knife on the morning school bus, told a school official. The small town of Colville, Wash. was unnerved by what could have happened. Six days later, Spokesman-Review reporter Tom Clouse was able the wrangle the court documents, which detailed the boys plans. Clouse posted the story around 4 p.m. Wednesday. As I read it, my jaw dropped at the details. The story also said that a community meeting to talk about school safety would be held at 6:30 p.m. An hour and a half drive later, I settled in for the meeting. At one point the school official told the crowd: “…that some of you have read the court document details on The Spokesman-Review website.”  That’s when smartphones in the audience raised up in unison, and when parent Christy Gorst caught my eye. I knew what she was about to read. I raised my camera just a she reacted to a chilling part in the story.  She told me later that it was this passage that stopped her cold:  “If I find out who told them about our weapons I’m going to kill them,” one of the boys was overheard by a police detective saying to the other as they waited for transport to a juvenile detention facility in Spokane. “I don’t care when I get out of jail I’m going to come back and kill them.” What I find most interesting about this photo is how the power of mobile is showcased in all its full glory here. It is a wake up call to print publications who still think their audience is waiting for the newspaper to hit the porch in the morning.


The family of Staff Sgt. Matthew H. Stiltz, 26, who was killed last week in Afghanistan, watch as his casket is placed into an awaiting hearse by the Washington Army National Guard Honor Guard, Monday, Nov. 19, 2012, at XN Air at the Spokane International Airport. Stiltz was about six months into a tour of duty in Afghanistan after serving two tours in Iraq, for the 1st Infantry Division at Fort Riley, Kan. He died of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked his unit with artillery fire in Zerok, a town in eastern Afghanistan about 12 miles from the border with Pakistan.

This was a hard photo to take. Even with the invite of the family, shooting someone else’s grief was hard for me. As the casket made its way to the hearse, I keep trying imagine the pain this family was going through. After years of doing this type of photojournalism, some say you can get jaded. I try not to be. By forcing myself to connect to the pain of my subjects, I feel my photography is more honest. I shot this image not because it is a good photo, but because it was a moment when I connected with what I was feeling. After the Transfer Ceremony, I headed off to shoot four more photo assignments. The thoughts of Army Staff Sgt. Stiltz and his family stayed ever-present in my mind. Colin Mulvany/© The Spokesman-Review


Before the Veterans Day ceremony at Fort George Wright Cemetery, Master Sgt. Jason Young from Fairchild Air Force Base, with his son Cooper, age 3, place American flags next to gravestones of U.S. military veterans on Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012.

The old adage of go early and stay late to a photo assignment paid off for me at a Veterans Day ceremony Sunday. I arrived about an hour early to find dozens of members of  the military, VFW Post 3386 and their families decorating the veteran’s cemetery with flags. I like the subtle moment of the dad helping his son place an American flag. I find hard to articulate the symbolism in this image. I guess it’s the connection between the fallen soldier, a son and a father that struck me. I hope people see this photo as a tribute to those who serve, will serve and have served our country. Nikon D700, Nikkor 24-120mm f/4 lens. Colin Mulvany/© The Spokesman-Review


Members of the Spokane Valley Fire Department honor guard, front to back, Bill Clifford, assistant fire marshal, Greg Bennett, fire Inspector, Dave Vegele, engineer/paramedic, Michael Fields, firefighter, Tag Baugh, Capt./paramedic, wait in the engine bay of the under construction Spokane Valley Fire Station 6 for a flag raising ceremony to start Tuesday morning. The Spokane Valley Fire Department has a tradition that whenever they have a building or new station under construction, they hold a dedication and flag raising ceremony on 9/11. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review Nikon D3s Nikkor 24-120mm f/4

Concert promoters allowed me only one song from the orchestra pit to photograph singer  Sir Elton John as he performed in Spokane recently. Concert photography has it own special challenges. The stage lighting changes rapidly and the freedom to move around is constrained–especially since you have to hug the rim of the stage as people, who paid big bucks for the privilege of a front row seat, bitch at you for being in their line of sight. When Elton walked on stage and waved to the crowd, I snapped this frame. The lights behind him threw my exposure meter off, under-exposing the shot.  I was able to save the image with a few brightness adjustments in Photoshop Camera Raw converter.  I like this frame because it stood out from all the shots I did of him sitting at his piano.

Taking the stage, singer Elton John waves to the sold-out Spokane Arena crowd Friday, April, 8, 2011. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review


On the flight line at the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan, Dustin Harder, a mechanic deployed with the 141st Washington Air National Guard Air Refueling Wing, cleans the fuel filters on a engine of a KC-135R Stratotanker. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review

In a delicate dance between man and machine high above Afghanistan, an F-15E Strike Eagle tops off its tanks with jet fuel provided by a Fairchild Air Force Base 92nd Air Refuling Wing KC-135R Stratotanker on deployment at the Manas Transit Center in Kyrgyzstan. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review

Rainbow Family

September 20th, 2010 Permalink

I had been camping for a few days with a group of Rainbow Family members. It was about 7 a.m. when I wandered in the Montana Mud camp kitchen, It was dark under the trees, but I followed a shaft of warm light that led me to these sleeping Rainbows. I quickly searched for a composition, settling on this spot shot with 14 mm wide-angle lens. I like the dog is this snap. In all but one shot he was turned away. This photo led the front page. It is one of my favorites this year. I think I like it because it is pure. The subjects’ were unaware, making it a real moment.

With cool nights in the Colville National Forest, many Rainbow Family followers sleep communally around campfires. About 300 Rainbows are attending this regional gathering, but a national gathering next year could attract thousands to a Washington state forest. Colin Mulvany/The Spokesman-Review