Great Allegheny Passage

A dedication ceremony was held Wednesday for the Hot Metal Pedestrian Bridge. The $11 million project is a connection from Pittsburgh's South Side to Oakland for bikers, runners and walkers. The new pedestrian bridge features new paint, lighting and railings. It is part of the Great Allegheny Passage, 150-mile trail connecting Washington, D.C., to Pittsburgh. I avoided shooting any frames from the ribbon cutting, despite prompting by the mayor's press secretary to, "come up here and shoot on this side of the tape."

Funeral Outtakes

Here are some outtakes from Staff Sgt. Patrick Kutschbach's funeral. While these photos didn't make my edit, I liked something about each of them.

Fall Stretch

Megan Newell, 9, of Highland Park enjoys the warm weather as she reaches to swing on a branch in Highland Park on Wednesday afternoon.


Mark Christopher, an employee of S. Christopher Painting, paints a home at 120 E. North Avenue on the North Side on Tuesday afternoon, November 20, 2007.

Staff Sgt. Patrick Kutschbach

TOP: Army Staff Sgt. Walczyk stands as the casket of Staff Sgt. Patrick Kutschbach, 25, of Kennedy is brought into St. Louise de Marillac Church in Upper St. Clair on Monday afternoon, November 19, 2007. Kutschbach, a Green Beret was killed in Bagram, Afghanistan, of injuries suffered when his Humvee was attacked with a rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire in the Tagab Valley in eastern Afghanistan's Kapisa province. He was assigned to the 1st Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group in Stuttgart, Germany. He leaves behind a wife, Ginger and one-year-old son, Bastian. MIDDLE: The flag-draped casket of Staff Sgt. Kutschbach is brought out of the Church after funeral services on Monday afternoon. BOTTOM: Ginger Kutschbach watches along side of her father, John Walden, holding her one-year-old son, Bastian as the flag-draped casket of her husband, Staff Sgt. Patrick Kutschbach is brought out of the church after funeral services on Monday afternoon.

Statue of Mary

I shot this at St. Louise de Marillac Church in Upper St. Clair, PA while covering the funeral of Army Staff Sgt. Patrick Kutschbach. The red leaves of the tree behind it really seemed to make it striking to me.

Officer Elvis Duratovic

Elvis Duratovic, 34, came to this country with his family from Bosnia in 1997. Duratovi, witnessed the devastation of genocide while serving in the military during the Bosnian War in 1992. Duratovic, who speaks five languages came with his family to the U.S. to start new lives and to live the American dream...his was to be a police officer. His mother, Bahirija, wanted nothing more than to see her son fulfill his dream, but died of cancer the same day her son got word that he was accepted to the city's police academy. After his graduation ceremony today, Duratovic, fights back tears as he hugs Sgt. Brenda Hill who he credits with helping him make it through the training academy after his mother's death.

The LaGrotta's

Francis and Loretta LaGrotta, the parents of former state Rep. Frank LaGrotta, are crushed and say the accusations against their son, daughter and granddaughter are false. Frank LaGrotta was charged today with two felony counts for hiring his sister and niece as legislative assistants in 2006 and paying them thousands of dollars in public money for work they never performed. LaGrotta, 49, his sister Ann Bartolomeo, 46, and her daughter, Alissa Lemmon, 24, all of Ellwood City, were charged on the recommendation of an investigative grand jury, Attorney General Tom Corbett said. LaGrotta, who served 10 terms in the House, is charged with two felony counts of conflict of interest. Bartolomeo and Lemmon each face counts of false swearing for allegedly lying to the grand jury.

Staff Sgt. Patrick Kutschbach

On Tuesday, my assignment, along with a reporter, was to knock on the Kutschbach's door in Kennedy Township. They had just received word that their loved one, Patrick Kutschbach, a Green Beret, was killed north of the Afghan capital of Kabul when his vehicle was hit by a rocket-propelled grenade and small-arms fire, according to U.S. military officials. He was 25. We spoke with Patrick's brother who was holding his brother's one-year old son. "He's oblivious to all this," he said with tears in his eyes and informed us the military was still inside the home helping the family make funeral arrangements. I didn't take any photographs and instead offered my condolences to the family and headed back my car. I started thinking that of all the things we complain about in the business, this is worst part of our jobs and that for over 5 years journalists have knocked on over 3,000 family's doors and nearly each and every time they did exactly the same as us and offered their condolences, went back to their cars, and headed back to their offices. The real story is behind their door at that moment. As journalists, we need to let the families know that we are there because we care, because our readers care, and the fact that we are still showing up on their doorsteps is a reflection on the countries desire to know those who gave their lives for this country. The day we stop showing up on their doorsteps is a sad day for America. By telling the stories of these soldiers we are keeping their voices alive and honoring them in the best way we remembering.


A painting of Mary that caught my eye while on assignment today.


Brandon Pielin, 10, of the South Side fishes along the Monongahela River on the South Side early Monday evening, November 12, 2007. The young angler really enjoys fishing and his favorite fish to catch is catfish.

Mel Check

Mel Check of Hillville, PA has always loved radios, having spent thirty-four years working at KDKA, in Pittsburgh, as a transmitter man and audio engineer. His personal collection of radios has grown so large he decided to open a museum out of an addition above his garage.

Now retired from KDKA, Check works as a independent contractor, stil sitting in the radio booth with the announcers, making sure they get on the air and stay there, guaranteeing local fans get to hear their games. He has worked at Forbes Field, at Three Rivers Stadium, Heinz Field, and just about every major ball park and football field in the country. Having worked well over 5,000 games, Check has worked on broadcasts of baseball, basketball, hockey, and football. He is one man who loves what he does.

Grace Benham

Grace Benham, 4, was born without a thumb. The Korean girl, adopted by a Plum couple, is deaf and without her thumb communication is very difficult. A recent operation took part of a finger and attached it in place of her thumb, giving her a chance to finally communicate with sign language.

Jeanne & Calla

Jeanne holds her daughter, Calla, 3, at their Highland Park home on Friday afternoon, November 2, 2007. Jeanne believes that vaccines are dangerous and has never had her daughter vaccinated. She says that Calla has never even had a runny nose.


Spent some time today in a knitting store and thought the colors and textures of the yarn were really interesting.

Todd Eckert Outtakes

Some outtakes from my photo shoot with Todd Eckert. Several photographers at the newspaper all agreed with the image in the previous post, but here are some others.

Todd Eckert

Todd Eckert, 39, of the North Side is a producer on "Control," a film about the late Ian Curtis, lead singer of the post-punk rock band Joy Division. Eckert moved from Los Angeles 6 years ago to make Pittsburgh his home and has worked in film, music and video games since he was 14 years old. "Control" is opening November 9th in Pittsburgh.


Madden dressed up as a rooster on Halloween.

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About Me

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Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Justin Merriman, an award-winning photojournalist has spent more than a decade traveling the world to cover politics, wars, natural disasters and civil unrest. His work has appeared in leading national and international publications and he has received numerous top journalism awards. After covering the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks – including the crash of United Flight 93 in Shanksville – Merriman committed to chronicling the U.S. military and its War on Terror. He has followed this story across the US and into the war zones of Pakistan, Afghanistan and Iraq. He also has covered life in Fidel Castro’s Cuba in 2002, India’s efforts to eradicate polio, the aftermath of the 2010 earthquake in Haiti, Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to Cuba in 2012, the 2013 conclave and election of Pope Francis in Rome, the second anniversary of Egypt's revolution and subsequent unrest, and most recently, Russia's invasion of Crimea and the international crisis that unfolded in Ukraine. Merriman lives in Oakmont with his fiancĂ©, Stephanie Strasburg.

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