About

Hi, I’m Neal. I am a photojournalist based in the San Francisco Bay Area. I have been shooting documentary and community news oriented photojournalism for about ten years.

In the spring of 2008, the Summit fire broke out while I was working on a story in the mountains of Santa Cruz. Since the fire’s perimeter was less than a mile from the community where I was shooting—I raced up there to see how it was affecting them.

The people of Mount Madonna were doing well and were not in any real danger. It was then I decided to go check out the fire in their backyard.

The Summit fire was the first wildfire I shot.

I was hooked after spending a few hours that night with one of the strike teams battling the fire.

The images on this website show the arduous struggle of the firefighters as they battle blaze after blaze. These fires can be both beautiful and destructive.

This site is not meant to glorify the loss that these fires cause but instead shows the power of a raging wildfire which changes and shapes nature for all of us.

Those of us that live in California (and other parts of the western USA) know just how destructive and disruptive these disasters can be. Most of us, however never get to see these blazes up close as they are tearing across the country—we only get to see the destruction left behind.

My hope is that these images will serve to teach those of us who live in fire country just how dangerous these events can be.

Neal Waters