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Sea of Blue 2015 Photo by JU Senior Barry Franklin

Sea of Blue: Remembering the fallen with help from JU Photography students

A group of Jacksonville University students have come to the aid of the Jacksonville Fire and Rescue Department.

Cover of the Sea of Blue 2015 book created using photos by JU students
Cover of the Sea of Blue 2015 book created using photos by JU students.

Not for an emergency, but to help document JFRD’s largest and most visible annual event: the Sea of Blue Fallen Firefighter Memorial March. Their efforts have helped in the creation of “Sea of Blue 2015,” a photo book on sale now.

The commemorative event, held last October, involved hundreds of off-duty firefighters in dress uniform marching a 1.5-mile route through downtown to honor Jacksonville’s 22 firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty since JFRD formed in the 1880s. The department’s pipes and drums band also participated, and numerous fire engines and ladder trucks were also part of the procession.

Given the scope of the march, JFRD needed at least 10 photographers to adequately cover the event. So JFRD Community Affairs Officer John Bracey reached out to JU. When Associate Professor of Photography Ginger Sheridan learned about the opportunity, she wholeheartedly embraced it, and so did the students in her photography class in the College of Fine ArtsDivision of Visual Arts.

Sea of Blue 2015 photo by JU Photography student Barry Franklin
Sea of Blue 2015 photo by JU Senior Barry Franklin

“John offered our students the unique opportunity to give back to the city of Jacksonville with a professional photographic experience,” Sheridan said. “Not only did they hone their photojournalism skills, they also gained a deeper appreciation for our firefighters. It is just icing on the cake that John also put together a book so that they see their work in print.”

About a week out from the event, JFRD briefed the students about Sea of Blue. Their objective was to stay safe and try to capture the event’s mood, dimension and diversity as it moved along the streets of downtown Jacksonville.

Sea of Blue 2015 photo by JU student Teresa Richardson
Sea of Blue 2015 photo by JU Senior Teresa Richardson

Marine Science Senior Teresa Richardson said she was glad the event could be shared with a wider audience.

“It was nice to see the Jacksonville community come together to honor these fallen heroes,” she said. “I was lucky enough to be able to be a part of the project and help capture this experience through the lens of my camera, so that the event can be shared with others and the memories of our fallen heroes will live on.”

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Sea of Blue 2015 photo by JU Junior Adam Lose

Participating JU students were Michelle Davidson (Senior, Photography), Barry Franklin (Senior, Computing Science), Daniel Fritton (Junior, Communications), Stefanie Keeler (Junior, Photography), Adam Lose (Junior, Photography), Emily Niermann (Freshman, Business), Weston Miller (Junior, Engineering), Teresa Richardson (Senior, Marine Science) and Alyssa Stevenson (Senior, Photography).

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Sea of Blue 2015 photo by JU Senior Michelle Davidson

The students’ photography yielded hundreds of candid images, many of which were used in “Sea of Blue 2015,” which was designed by two City of Jacksonville employees.

The 38-page book contains nearly 60 images and credits each student photo. Its purchase price covers costs of production. Many of Sheridan’s students have already expressed an interest in volunteering to photograph this year’s Sea of Blue as well.

“Prof. Sheridan embraced the project from the start, and her enthusiasm transferred to her students,” Bracey said. “Their commitment to covering the event’s entire scope yielded a quality product that will serve as enduring documentation. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience of working with Prof. Sheridan and her students and realizing the vision JFRD had for the project.”

To preview or purchase “Sea of Blue 2015,” click here.