Los Angeles photojournalist Christian Monterrosa has won the first Portraits of Protection competition which is being run by Pelican. His breathtakingly and frightening images of firefighters tackling Californian wildfires has won him $500 worth of Peli gear.
"I was covering the Saddleridge Fire in Sylmar, California. I noticed a pocket of homes in the path of the fire and headed for the neighborhood to document any evacuation efforts;" explains Christ When I arrived, Zach Hanson and his engine crew were already hard at work battling the flames that quickly surrounded us and the neighborhood and I spent the better part of an hour documenting the intense firefight that was taking place."
"Documenting wildfire comes with countless challenges. Flying debris, extreme heat, a dark environment with the lighting situation constantly changing makes a tough environment to make pictures", he explains. "When shooting, I wear the same fire resistant gear that wildland firefighters wear including a helmet, goggles, gloves, and fire resistant boots to make sure I am protected from flying embers and debris. Camera wise, during this shoot I was using a Nikon D850 with a Nikkor 24-70mm f/2.8 lens."
Portraits of Protection was created to bring together Pelican’s photographer and first responder communities to immortalize heroes who’ve stepped up in the face of danger. Pelican invites photographers to submit photos of either heroism in action, or the faces of heroes, and post on Instagram for a chance to win in the monthly contest.