A good photographer would do almost anything to get the perfect shot. From hanging off the edge of a cliff to wading into shark-infested waters, they aren’t afraid to jump into the middle of the action in order to capture a rare moment in time. However, that adventurous spirit can lead shutterbugs into some dangerous situations… and sometimes face terrible consequences.
When 20-year-old Connor Cummings put himself in harm’s way to snap some images, the young man simply thought the danger was worth the potential rewards. Yet, he soon found out the hard way that some shots just aren’t worth taking…
Connor Cummings was a second-year college student from Rockaway, New Jersey. It was 2015, and he’d returned home from school to spend the holidays with his family, and he was planning for a nice relaxing break from classwork.
Connor loved getting involved with anything that allowed him to flex his creative muscles, and he had a strong passion for photography. Friends said it was rare to catch him without a camera in his hand snapping away.
In fact, he’d recently landed a job taking photographs at his school in Massachusetts, a dream job for someone like Connor. Naturally, he saw it as a huge stepping stone to a photography career once he graduated college.
Over Christmas break, his parents bought him a brand-new Canon camera to congratulate him on landing the job. They wanted him to start with his best foot forward, and a sleek new camera was the first step towards success.
On New Year’s Eve, Connor ventured into New York City to get some photographs of the cityscape at night. The city had amazing views, and the young photographer wanted to capture its beauty through his new lens.
Along with his friend, 18-year-old Dimitri Olivares, who also had a knack for photography, Connor headed into the city. The two young men were excited to return with a roll full of great pictures to show their friends and family.
The boys hopped a subway into Midtown, and as soon as they got off, they headed to a building near Times Square to start shooting. They could already sense some spectacular images were about to materialize.
Soon enough, their search for some even better views led the boys to the Four Seasons Hotel on East 57th Street. They knew hotels often boasted rooftop balconies, and they were excited to find awesome angles of the Big Apple.
Far from being concerned about security, they walked right into the hotel and stepped into the elevator, taking it to the top floor, which was 52 stories up. Once there, they climbed a few flights of stairs to the roof—and found the door unlocked.
The roof, however, wasn’t as high as the intrepid shutterbugs wanted to get. So when they spotted some scaffolding, they decided it was the perfect way to find the right vantage point without the risk of getting caught by hotel security.
Cameras held tightly in their grasp, the two boys carefully climbed the scaffolding. Eventually, Connor asked Dimitri to pose for a picture mid-climb, and that’s when tragedy struck…
As Connor was positioning himself to take the picture, he stepped back through a hole in the scaffolding. The hole hung above a nine-story drop—and Connor plummeted to his death. Dimitri was horrified, and he fled the scene without telling anyone what just happened.
Dimitri promptly hailed a cab, but soon after he realized he needed to seek help. He stopped the taxi just a few blocks away and turned back to the hotel, where he told hotel security and his mother what had happened. Ambulances were called to the scene.
Though it was too late to save Connor, police spoke with hotel security to find out exactly how the young men were able to make it to such a dangerous area on the roof. Aside from the unlocked doors, they were also able to avoid being seen on security cameras.
After the tragic accident, Connor’s Instagram following grew significantly. People from all over wanted to share the young man’s natural gift for photography, and his funeral was attended by nearly 3,000 people.
To honor her son, Connor’s mother released some of the photographs taken just prior to his death, which demonstrated just how talented he was. Clearly, he had a natural eye for photography.
This was another picture Connor snapped from the rooftop just moments before tragedy struck. There’s something so eerie about it, especially given what would happen soon after it was taken.
Connor’s mother said that she would continue to post his photos onto his Instagram account until it reached 200 pictures, which had been his goal. Every picture his mother posted garnered positive messages from his followers, too.
Until his picture count reached 200, Connor’s mother hoped the photographs would continue to inspire people and spread her son’s talents across the globe. It seemed a fitting way to honor his memory.
Through his beautiful photographs, Connor’s legacy would forever live on. Hopefully, he’ll always be remembered for the unique and beautiful way he captured the world around him.
It’s so tragic that Connor had to find out the hard way how dangerous getting great photographs can be. At least his followers have his life’s work to remember him by.
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