By Keith Gosse, Telegram photographer
The Telegram recently asked it’s photographers to pick one photo from last year that had the most impact on each one of them.
The one I picked was of an armed robbery suspect holding a shotgun up to his chin during a standoff on Springdale Street. (CLICK HERE to see the article)
The young man has since pleaded guilty to 17 charges, including two armed robberies, weapons charges and several court breaches. He was sentenced to almost six years in jail.
While a couple of people who sent in comments on my submission thought it was a great photo, they also thought publishing the photo again was crass and inappropriate. One person wondered why I didn’t use a happier, nicer picture.
I’ll tell you why.
This photo shows a troubled young man with an admitted alcohol addiction. He found himself at rock bottom and in a standoff with police due to some of the unfortunate choices he made because of this addiction. It demonstrates some of the perils that alcohol, or drugs, can get one into when he or she becomes addicted to either. This is an unfortunate reality in our society and we can’t hide from it. The problem has to be addressed or it will run rampant.
Another commenter asked me if I would share this picture if it was of one of my children. My answer to that is that if one of my children or family members was so adversely affected by their addiction, the last thing I would worry about is them having their picture in the paper. If anything, I would try to point out to them that their addiction has driven them to a point where they need immediate and drastic help. Both of my teens are well informed about the dangers of abusing alcohol and drugs and both have seen this photo and know the story behind it. Will that guarantee they will never have a problem with drugs or alcohol? I don’t know, but it won’t be for lack of knowledge about where those problems may lead.
The job of a photojournalist is to capture everyday life in images, whether it be good or bad.
I’m not naïve enough to think that this will satisfy those who disagreed with my choice of picture but the idea was to pick one that impacted each one of us. This one had an impact on me on many levels.
One of the young man’s defense lawyers was quoted saying, "If this is not his Jesus moment, I don't know when it's going to come."
I really hope this was his Jesus moment. I also sincerely and truly wish the young man the best in dealing with his addiction.
I’ve seen the troubles alcohol or drugs can cause. Pretending the problem doesn’t exist helps no one.