Photo speaks to perils of alcohol, drug addiction

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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.


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Recent comments

  • yoggii
    February 23, 2014 - 18:06

    I recall being a brand new photographer at the "Evening Telegram" on Duckworth Street many years ago and was called to an incident on Elizabeth Avenue where a child had been struck by a car. The young boy had been taken to hospital and I was looking for some kind of shot. There was a small pool of blood on the street so with my twin lens reflex Mamiya I got a close up shot of the blood, peoples shoes and toes standing on the curb and a bit of the front bumper of the car. I cropped the photo and sent it to the newsroom where the editor nearly had a fit. He said it was in poor taste and we'd be having to deal with too many complaints and basically called me an idiot for being so insensitive. A week later they showed a photo of a nude man who fell or jumped off of a roof on Garrison Hill. It was OK to show him but not OK to print my photo. How times have changed. Now it seems anything goes...which is fine with me. The picture is supposed to tell the story. Good photogs are hard to find. You, Keith, are one of the best. Keep it up!

  • Chelsea
    January 31, 2014 - 15:36

    Thank you to Keith Goose for being true, and the Telegram for making it available. and for more.. About the foundation WE EXIST TO INSPIRE UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORLD THROUGH QUALITY PHOTOJOURNALISM. I am not affiliated.

  • Chelsea
    January 30, 2014 - 21:14

    Thank you to Keith for being true, and thank you to the telegram for speaking of that truth. Check it: World Press Photo About the foundation WE EXIST TO INSPIRE UNDERSTANDING OF THE WORLD THROUGH QUALITY PHOTOJOURNALISM. I am not affiliated.

  • marilee pittman
    January 30, 2014 - 13:32

    A terrific photo and I thought your comment on why it was important to you was very compassionate. Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words!

  • David Hebbard
    January 21, 2014 - 07:22

    Well done Keith. And well said.