I agonized about submitting this photo that I thought summed up the recent hotly contested and contentious mayoral debate in Lewiston.
I thought it was the best photo as it displayed emotion, evoked emotion, and there was some good action. After a few weeks of thinking about it, I am not sure I made the right decision. The photo IS an eye catcher. However, it does not show the mayor in a positive light. Should I be concerned with that? Often times we take photos of athletes with strange or weird facial expressions in the midst of a crucial play that tells the story of the game. Victims at accident scenes, fires or other mishaps often find subjects in a non flattering, even compromising situations.
I had other photos. However, I did not think there were powerful enough to anchor the front page as this was the biggest story of the night. I was caught up in the fact that I was able to capture this moment. When the mayor was caught up in the emotion of the election. Relieved that it was over, and beaming with the fact that the victory was nearly a 2-1 margin.
The reaction in the newsroom was mixed. Some thought it was a good photo and represented the mood of the night and the culmination of the controversial campaign.
Others were luke warm about it and asked if I might not have something that showed Mayor Macdonald in a more favorable light. I argued that I had others, but they were pretty static or posed, like the group photo. After receiving numerous letters and emails damning me for publishing the photo I have come to the realization that it may have not been the right move to push for this photo. Not because I did not want to offend the mayor, not because of the backlash from our readers, but after looking back at numerous other photos I have taken over the year, I noticed that Mr. Macdonald has a tendency to stick his tongue out when nervous. This was nagging me from the moment I got back and started editing my images. Was this really a reaction to the phone call, that is, was he sticking his tongue out because; nah nah nah nah “I just kicked your butt,” or was it a tic, or nervous habit. Should this change the decision making process?
One last hypothetical scenario to make the point. I am at an accident scene where a car is upside down in the middle of the street. Nobody is hurt, the driver is walking around, actually joking. A gust of wind blows some sand in his face and he brings his hands to his face. It makes for a dramatic photo with the car upside down, looming in the background and the victim looking anguished. But does it misrepresent the situation. Hell yeah. But it is so much more powerful that him just walking around. Do I run with that dramatic photo. Compelling. Or is it the wrong decision. Just what I am grappling with in the mayoral victory photo debate. If I would have just worked the assignment a little harder, stayed a little longer, perhaps I would have got a better photo that would not caused such an uproar. Or was it the correct call. A conundrum for sure.