Ronnie Chambers Jr. looks down towards his collapsed mother Tahitah Myles during a funeral for the boys father Ronnie Chambers on February 4, 2013 in Chicago. Shirley Chambers of Chicago had four children - three boys and a girl. Now they're all gone. Her son, Ronnie Chambers. was the last of the single mother's children ' all victims of gun violence in Chicago over a period of 18 years.s. REUTERS/John Gress

One of life’s lessons: Chicago’s violent legacy gets personal

Its not every day that an assignment teaches you something about your own childhood. When I was 7 years old my father, who shared my name, passed away and when I looked down today, I saw a boy, Ronnie Chambers Jr., who is about he same age as I was back then, sitting at my feet with RIP carved in the back of his hair. He was there mourning the loss of his father, who also shared the same name.

Shirley Chambers cries in her living room, next to pictures of her son Ronnie who was recently murdered. in Chicago, Illinois, January 30, 2013, Chambers had four children - three boys and a girl. Now they're all gone. The single mother will bury Ronnie on Monday. He was the last of her children - all victims of gun violence in Chicago over a period of 18 years. Picture taken on January 30, 2013. REUTERS/John Gress

When words are not enough

Sometimes you have to look someone in the eye and express something words could never say. This was one of those times.
I met Shirley Chambers yesterday, a mother who has lost all four of her children to gun violence. A woman who seems as pleasant and as motherly as many of the women I have met during my lifetime.

Chicago Firefighter Michael De Jesus is covered in ice as he mans a water cannon while fighting a warehouse fire January 24, 2013, which caught fire Tuesday night in Chicago. Fire Department officials said it is the biggest fire the department has had to battle in years. One-third of all Chicago firefighters were on the scene at one point or another trying to put out the flames. REUTERS/John Gress (UNITED STATES)

Ice castle, day two

You never know how the assignment is going to go when you decide to put on the same clothes you had on the day before. Why? Because they smell like smoke! I made a return trek to the ice castle today, an abandoned warehouse which has been burning for three days. Quite surprising considering most of the building has collapsed and is covered in inches of ice.

Fire & Ice: Chicago’s frozen warehouse fire

I woke up this morning, tossing and turning with all kinds of thoughts and ideas running through my head as I came up with concepts for a photo shoot I have on Friday. Then, the phone rang, it was Reuters Editor Hans Deryk asking me to take photos of a warehouse fire, apologizing for the early call. I told him, “Are you kidding me? I have been waiting for this for 10 years!”