The now-famous photo of two apparent lovebirds kissing during the chaos of the post-Stanley Cup riots has already been Photoshopped into a meme, debunked as staged, and linked to artist Tino Sehgal's live installation, The Kiss. But it hasn't been proved to be anything but two crazy Canucks fans making out on the ground. A commenter on the hockey fan site HFBoards claims to have seen the couple, and says the woman had hurt her ankle sometime before the shot, which squares with the alternate photo that's been circulated today. But a lot still remains unclear. Why was this couple outside the police line? Could the shot have been staged? Who are these two anyway? For some answers, we got photographer Richard Lam on the phone to tell us his story.
The big question is, who is this couple. Did you get their names? “I have absolutely no idea who they are. I’m just guessing -- and I’m not very good on my distances -- they were about 30 yards from me... The police were none too cooperative with what I was asking. They didn't even want to give me directions to get back to the rink. I didn’t dare go ask if I could go get their names.”
How did you manage to catch this moment? “It was real brief. What happened was, just before I turned back and looked [toward the couple], I was running down with the mob as the riot police were rushing us down the street. I looked back and saw them on the ground. My initial thought was that she got caught up by the moving police line... I thought she was hurt and someone was helping her out… Right after that there was some guy charging the police line like he was a running back. There was a lot going on, and next thing that happened a mannequin’s arm went flying over my head and it was just chaos."
You've surely seen the alternate photo taken from the rooftop. Some are saying the woman was hurt. How does that photo square with the one you took? "She could have been [hurt]... Where they were lying was right in front of a parking garage. That, I imagine, happened after [my photo]. Before [my photo], we were basically standing right where they ended up lying on the ground and the police kind of pushed and we ended up 30 yards down the street."
Some are saying the alternate photo proves a set-up. Do you buy that? "What you don’t see in the frame is that 20 feet beyond is the mounted [police] squad, on horseback. I don’t think they were in any mood for people to be playing around setting something up like this. There were dogs too. I wasn’t hanging around at all, it was chaos. Maybe someone had a really brilliant idea to do it, I don’t know. I don’t want to speculate... The police line had just moved, there was tear gas, people were getting pepper sprayed, there was a lot going on."
What time did you get to sleep last night? "I think I fell asleep around 2:15, and got woken up about 8:15... It was a full day. I started around 5:30 in the morning. You do the Stanley cup finals, you do the press conference, the next thing you know you’re in a riot."