What are the Waldo Canyon Interviews?

Hi. We are your authors, Tom Holsteen and Steve Moraco

Tom & Steve

We are students from SCAD (Savannah College of Art and Design) and LSU (Louisiana State University) who are individually pursuing our studies in Art and Humanities. Tom is a writer, Steve is a photographer, both are natives of the Colorado Springs area and attended High school at Colorado Springs Christian Schools. We graduated high school in 2010, when the awful photo above was taken. We were both home for the summer during the events of the Waldo Canyon Fire, and were thus directly and personally affected by the fire itself and the evacuations that resulted therefrom. Tom’s family evacuated, and Steve’s family (residing in Monument, north of town) hosted a family from Mountain Shadows as they watched in incredible tension over the course of the week to see if their home had burned down. Fortunately, both that particular family’s and Tom’s homes were okay. These experiences gave us (and much of the Colorado Springs community) an incredible sense of pride in and thankfulness for the phenomenally brave firefighters to whom we owe the safety of our hometown.

Morning Breifing

In this project we are taking the talents we have been given and putting them to use for our community. Our goal is to allow these firefighters to share a little of themselves in a personal setting through brief interviews and candid portraits, to help us (and by extension our readers/viewers) better understand the unique and loving motivations that lead these incredible individuals to run towards the fire and fight for our safety.

We want to allow all people interested in the Waldo Canyon fire, especially those whose lives were directly affected it–those who lost homes, and those whose homes were saved by the actions of firefighters – to get to know “firefighters” as more than just a category of heroes, but rather caring individuals with unique pasts, motivations, and reasons for putting their lives on the line for the benefit of the community.

Morning Breifing

Additionally, we want this project to serve as a historic record for the Waldo Canyon Fire as an event in the history of Colorado Springs and the surrounding communities.

Ultimately, our project will provide an oral history, largely transcribed from interviews with the people involved. If it becomes a book, it will be a compilation of our many interviews. There may also be a chapter on relief efforts and the rebuilding and healing process after the events of the fire itself, and you may look forward to those as blog posts toward the end of our project.

View from the GoG overlook

We started the project during the week of the fire. We conducted (and are still conducting) interviews and portrait sessions with firefighters in our community in a way that we can release them (relatively) rapidly on the blog for several reasons: 1) the firefighters are very important to our community, and we want them to be highlighted and honored before they fade from the public consciousness; 2) it will provide good publicity for the upcoming historical document book; and 3) the success of Steve’s time-lapse video of the fire has provided us with a unique opportunity and social media leverage.

Because this is a project that focuses on firefighters as individuals, the photography will be a mix between environmental and studio portraiture. Studio lit environments will be used, with a candid feel to them that we hope will come across as approachable, friendly, and intimate.


We hope this project–the photos and oral history–will be a memorial for the events of this summer, help those affected to process the events, and draw lessons and encouragement from the community of Colorado Springs.

Rich & Jerry

We are incredibly grateful for the tremendous public servants our community has–from firefighters, to police forces, military personnel, politicians, leaders of charities, volunteers–the list is literally endless–we want these heroes of all stripes to be recognized and honored through our work.

Firefighters walking back to Base Camp

Yours in document,
Tom & Steve