Viewing the world through the eyes of Volunteer Firefighters around the country.
The Volunteer DragonSlayers is a coffee-table photobook and concurrent Documentary about the lives and experiences Volunteer Firefighters face in their chosen volunteer profession to serve their communities and balance that with a normal life.
My name is Steven “Doc” Bernard, and I was a volunteer firefighter and am now a photographer with press credentials. By combining my two passions of photography and firefighting, I am going to be documenting and highlighting these American heroes across the United States.
Many of the men and women responding to a 9-1-1 call across the United States, wake up from home when needed, rush out to their cars and respond directly to the call for help, no matter the hour. And when the call is over, the only pay they receive is the satisfaction that they made a difference in their community. Did you know that more than 70% of all firefighters in the US are unpaid volunteers? These men and women have gone too long unrecognized for the sacrifices and risks taken on their community’s behalf.
Being a former Volunteer FireFighter myself, the departments I have contacted are allowing me more access than a standard journalist, and I will be covering the department from as much of a firefighter's perspective as possible. For instance, I hope to be able to shoot from inside structure fires - an extremely rare opportunity that many professional photographers are usually not granted.
To date, I have 4 volunteer fire departments from around the country that are welcoming me with open arms. If they had the money to pay for my travel, they would gladly do so. But they do not, and I would not ask of them to sacrifice their meager budgets to fly me out.
So this is where I ask of the Kickstarter community to assist. Most of the funds ($4000) will go towards travel, and the rest ($1000) towards renting and fireproofing the gear.
As I mentioned in the video, I am not getting paid for my time on this project, it will be a labor of love, and a dedication to what these individuals face, day in and day out. Heroes come in many shapes and sizes…..but for me, those that give of their time and risk their lives without any pay…..they mean the most to me. They know the word sacrifice. It means the world to me to be able to tell their story honestly and share with the world what they experience as a “Volunteer DragonSlayer”
Thank you for your time, and interest in my project.
Risks and challenges Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
The challenges for this project are going to be intense, yet I feel with my prior experience as a Firefighter they are going to be easily overcome.
Scheduling is completely fluid, so that is not an issue. I am confident that with this project, we will be able to tell the in-depth story of Volunteer Firefighters.
This project definitely has risks, as to get some of this footage, I will be entering burning buildings, being on accident scenes, and being on firelines. I will be riding the engines, trucks and squads right alongside my former brothers and sisters.
And that entails me facing the same dangers and experiencing the same challenges they do, day in and day out. But for this book to have the level of intimacy I envision, this is how it has to be.
The rates for flying with video equipment on airlines has gone up lately, and the trip will have to be planned on a short notice, once funding is acquired. Hence the higher rates.
Over the next year, we will be visiting 10-15 departments from across the United States, and compiling the stories, pictures, and interviews of Volunteer Firefighters.
There will be a documentary produced to highlight these brave men and women, along with getting the book to print.