Rick McClure, the self-named “crash and burn” photographer for The Signal, got his start in the professional photography business more than 45 years ago.
His pursuit of the field was first sparked by his interest in the fire service.
“It goes along ways back; it wasn’t something that came on suddenly,” he said. “I saw my first fire when I was four in nursery school and got the start from that.”
Four years later, McClure got his first bike and began spending time around North Hollywood fire stations, following calls when they came up. When he got his first car, he said it was a done deal.
With his 8mm film camera and Kodak Instax camera in hand, McClure would follow calls out and shoot what he saw.
“They didn’t have scanners back in those days, but they did come up with a radio that I could follow if I dialed,” he said.
When he later met photographers from the Los Angeles Times in the field, he realized he could photograph professionally and publish his work.
“My first picture was published in the Green Sheet, which is now known as The (
Los Angeles) Daily News,” he said. “It was a little house fire and the media photography took off from there.”
McClure began photographing for publications throughout Los Angeles while he worked as a fireman. He was hired at 20 years old and continued his career in the fire department for 39 years where he retired as a captain and paramedic.
“When I retired, I left the fire service but I never left the media,” he said. “I’m well documented around the world and I’ve
been published all over.”
His work has appeared in publications like The Signal, the Los Angeles Times, the Daily News, the Los Angeles Herald-
Examiner, Los Angeles Magazine and Los Angeles Fire Magazine, United Press International and the Associated Press, just to name a few.
Today, the retired fireman and Santa Clarita resident works part-time as a fire captain in La Habra Heights. He continues to shoot breaking news photos throughout Los Angeles, where he is always looking out for the safety of others and trying to get “the money shot.”
“I’m looking for the shot: the money shot,” he said. “I’m always looking for something different.”
To do so, McClure focuses on his surroundings, changes his angles, alters his perspective and shoots.
“I get a shot and then I move on to something else,” he said. “I don’t look back.”
On Twitter as @_ChristinaCox_