Photographer, Billy Wade uses his Nikon camera to capture firefighters in their element, at Station One in downtown Neosho.

NEOSHO, Mo. — A Neosho man is utilizing his photography skills to showcase the importance of our local first responders. For the last 10 years, Billy Wade’s photography was considered a hobby.

Now, that hobby has transformed into a passion.

Shooting scenes of fires, vehicle accidents, and emergency situations is how he started out until he began to focus his lens on another aspect of emergency response: Those who do the responding.

Wade has photographed nearly every local police, fire, and EMS department within 50 miles of his Neosho home, telling the story of those who risk their lives so that others can go on living.

Wade says he isn’t paid for his photography work but does it so that perhaps his photos will change how people view first responders.

“I just want to see people appreciate our first responders, first and foremost. So to me, these photos are worth more than a thousand words. However, some of them (emergency responder photos) are hard to take because there have been times when I’ve had to say, ‘Man, am I going to post that? Am I going to save that? Am I going to send this one to the individual? What am I going to do with it?’ I’ll sit there and I’ll ponder even a week or two, and then I’ll release it and I’m like, ‘Yeah, it (the story) has to be told,” said Photographer, Billy Wade.

Over the years, Wade has collected thousands of first responder photos.

Some area fire and police stations have even started their own photo albums, featuring Wade’s work.