A Hard Goodbye

Jason Derkosh holds his wife, Elizabeth, at the funeral of their 2-year-old son, Maddox, at Saint Bernard Church in Mount Lebanon on Friday, November 9, 2012. Derkosh was killed Sunday after he fell from a wooden railing overlooking the painted dogs exhibit at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium and bled to death after being mauled by the dogs.

Note by photographer: As a photojournalist, I have to cover difficult events.  In my career, spanning over a decade, I’ve covered more than my share.  The world isn’t a perfect place and unfortunately there is great sadness, pain, and suffering.  Today was no exception. I found myself at the funeral of 2-year-old Maddox Derkosh who was killed Sunday at the Pittsburgh Zoo & PPG Aquarium when he fell from his mother’s arms into the African Painted Dogs exhibit and was mauled to death. No one wants to cover these sad events.  It’s never easy to make photographs under such tragic circumstances, and often my camera feels so heavy I can barely pull it up to my eye.  However, knowing the importance of my presence and the camera in these situations helps me to make photographs that will bear witness, help people to understand, and to hopefully provoke a dialog that will prevent such events in the future. 
When I am assigned to cover funerals, I am always respectful.  I remain at a distance that doesn’t intrude on the family and still allows me to work in a discrete and considerate manner.  We can’t simply ignore difficult things, particularly events that happen in such a public manner.  While the photograph of Maddox’s mother and father embracing at such a tremendously difficult time in their lives is hard to look at, it helps everyone who is mourning with them to know how loved and cared for he was.  They do not mourn the loss of Maddox alone.  Pittsburgh, the country and the world mourns with them.  There are no borders for stories such as this one, it spans the globe and stretched across humanity.  We all feel their pain, including the members of the media who were assigned to cover the funeral. If we were to ignore these events, we would be doing a disservice to all who care. 

Final Wave

 Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney waves to supporters as he lands at Atlantic Aviation Services in Coraopolis, PA on his final stop on his Presidential campaign on election day, Tuesday, November 6, 2012.

Election Day

Shirley Placke, of Bloomfield, votes at the 8th Ward, District 5, polling location in Bloomfield on Tuesday afternoon.

SciTech Days

Dominic Furnari, 12, a student at Franklin Regional Middle School, sits in a Mattress Factory display at the Carnegie Science Center's SciTech Days, during which regional students explore careers in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). Nearly 3,400 students will be onsite during this four-day program. 

Pittsburgh Glass Center

Eunsuh Choi, a resident artist at the Pittsburgh Glass Center, works on a new piece on Friday afternoon, November 2, 2012. Choi will be in residence at PGC until January creating new work for her exhibition at PGC that opens February 1, 2013.

Job Search

Russel J. Christiana, 56 of Wexford, an Afghanistan veteran, who is trying to find a job outside of the Army, poses for a portrait in front of his home on Wednesday, October 31, 2012.

Halloween

Michael Bauer, 26, of Etna tries on a Halloween mask at Costume World in the Strip District on Tuesday, October 30, 2012.

Pittsburgh Meeting

Jason Mick, of Wayne State University in Rochester, MI., is silhouetted near a Pittsburgh booth at the American Institute of Chemical Engineers annual meeting at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center, Downtown on Monday.

Relaxing

Tyree Morgan, 22, of the North Side enjoys the warm weather as he relaxes on a bench on the North Side on Friday afternoon, October 26, 2012.

Veteran

Christopher Costello, 30, of Crafton, a veteran of the Marine Corps will share his story at a Tribute to Veterans, an event hosted by the Veterans Leadership Program on Oct. 25th.

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About Me

My Photo
Pittsburgh, PA, United States
Justin Merriman, an award-winning photojournalist with the Tribune-Review, 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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