ANIMAL’s original series asks photographers about that one shot that got away. This week, Nate Igor Smith of Driven By Boredom tells us about that one time he should shot his friend’s gory accident.

I have a reoccurring nightmare that something amazing is happening in front of me and I can’t get my camera out quick enough or it’s out of batteries or film and I miss the shot. It’s a fear I think about constantly and never leave the house without my camera and I often refuse to do fun things because I know I won’t be able to take pictures of whatever it may be. I can’t stand having something interesting happening in front of me without taking a photo.

I have missed a lot of shots in my life but the one that really comes to mind is when I was in college I was with a bunch of people pregaming at one of my friends apartments. Around midnight we decided to make a move to a dance party and about a dozen of us started out on the short walk to a night club down the street. I was walking behind a few of my friends who were skipping ahead of us–literally skipping. My friend Travis was a flamboyant dance major and was bouncing along and I wasn’t really paying attention to him until I heard this loud crash. Somehow Travis had managed to skip right into the glass window of a store. He was laying on the street screaming and along with several other cuts he had a gash all the way up his arm that was to the bone and bleeding like nothing I have ever seen before. By the time I caught up to him he was in a pool of blood and his arm looked like something from a horror movie with tendons and muscle and shit just coming out of his arm.

My immediate reaction was to start taking photos. I knew that if it happened to me I would want it well documented but all of his friends started screaming at me. He was just screaming about how is dance career was over and he was mildly afraid he was going to bleed to death. I seemed to be the least of his concerns but no one would let me take any shots. In retrospect I should have told them to fuck off because I did take a couple shots from a distance once the ambulance showed up and they were the only things he had to remember what happened to him. I guess he went into shock because he has no memory of the whole thing. He was glad to have the pictures and wished I had taken more.

The epilogue to this story is that Travis did dance again, although he lost a lot of feeling in that arm, and that I learned to just take the photo even if it pisses everyone off. Just last week I got yelled at by some EMT’s for taking a photo of an unconscious man they were wheeling away, but fuck them, the shot was amazing.

Nate “Igor” Smith’s is a New York photographer in art galleries and at Driven By Boredom. Should Have Shot That! series is illustrated by James Noel Smith.

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