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Too shoot or not to shoot, that's his question
Lewis Levinemay2017
Lewis Levine is retired Army and a longtime correspondent of the Coastal Courier. - photo by File photo

To shoot or not to shoot.

That is the dilemma I face every time I cover a story which may result in images that many may find distasteful.

For example, several years back a 17-year-old kid was killed while delivering food from a local restaurant when he was hit head on by a pickup truck head on.

The vehicle he was in was covered in a sheet to protect his privacy.

As investigators processed the scene, I spotted a man who showed up and began talking to investigators on the sidewalk within a few feet where the vehicles rested.

All of a sudden, the man dropped to his knees. Hinesville Police Department officers Max McLendon and Mike Mooney began to console him, each with an expression of pain on their face.

I later learned it was the man’s son who was killed. This was the age before social media and newspapers, local TV and word of mouth was the way we received news.

The photo of the officers consoling the grief-stricken father was printed on the front page of the Coastal Courier and it wasn’t long before the social media of the time, good old "Sound Off," was blasting me for being insensitive. I was told I should be ashamed of myself for intruding on this man’s grief.

The backlash was a bit unsettling, but it came with the territory and I knew that when I entered this business.

The bashing stopped when the man wrote a letter to the editor thanking me for taking the photo because it showed the compassion of the officers during what may have been the darkest moments he experienced in his life.

Today, harsh comments over a photo which may disturb people are rougher because of social media sites such as Facebook and other forums.

I, along with colleagues, are routinely blasted over the photos or videos we take, because at times they are disturbing.

But speaking for myself, I’m not in the business to effect change or shock the masses, I’m in the business to bring you news of what’s happening in our community. Sometimes the photos are warm and fuzzy and sometimes they’re dark.

In every case, these are the images of what’s happening in your neighborhood.

I’ve been shooting for many years and when I arrive on a scene I arrive with my camera ready to shoot, and I don’t hesitate to document a scene.

If a photo or video saves a life by illustrating the importance of paying attention to the road or securing your weapons, then I perhaps did my job.

But my purpose for having my cameras ready to document a scene is not to shock you, or prompt you to write me nasty social media comments, It’s simply to make you aware of what’s happening down the street from you.

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