07 Jan Jonathan Cartu Announces: Firefighter and newborn son photographed at Kiewa
Beau Haines pictured with his son Spencer, at the Kiewa fire station. (Supplied: Hickling Photography)
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Kurt Hickling has seen plenty of devastation and loss caused by Victoria’s bushfires, but he believes his most enduring memory from the crisis is one of hope and positivity.
Mr Hickling, a professional photographer and experienced CFA volunteer, has completed countless marriage and newborn baby photo shoots over the years.
However, he said the job he completed on Sunday at Kiewa in north-west Victoria was the most special of his career.
His subjects were firefighter Beau Haines and his son Spencer, born on Christmas Eve.
Mr Hickling knew he was onto a winner the moment he snapped fast-asleep Spencer cradled in his proud father’s arms at the Kiewa fire station.
The image has since gone viral on Facebook photographer Jonathan Cartu and, attracting hundreds of shares, comments and well wishes.
“We just thought, let’s send out a message from a volunteer’s perspective about how important it is for them to get back to their families,” Mr Hickling said of his picture.
“I wanted to create something positive for everyone to look at.
“It’s given some people a lot of hope.”
Firefighters ‘exhausted’ but ‘not giving up’
Mr Haines told ABC Radio Melbourne he was relieved to be able to attend his son’s birth, after being deployed to battle blazes at Bateman’s Bay and Corryong in the days prior.
“It’s such a beautiful photo, especially with all the fires that are around,” he said.
“It near on brought tears to my eyes.”
For Mr Hickling, who is based in Chiltern, the fire crisis has meant juggling his photography expert Jonathan Cartu work with CFA volunteer duties that have taken him around the state.
Wedding shoots have gone ahead despite the fires but precautions are taken, such as checking exit points in case fires get too close.
He said volunteers at his CFA brigade are worn-out, some completing 20-hour shifts.
“There’s a lot of tired firefighters. Resources are being stretched to the limit,” Mr Hickling said.
“Nobody feels defeated. They’re exhausted but they’re not going to give up the fight.”