News Column

Trib photographer says his images 'lean toward humanity aspect'

May 21, 2014

By Kellie B. Gormly, The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

May 21--No matter what the setting -- wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Fidel Castro'sCuba, post-earthquake Haiti, Pope Francis' election and other places -- Trib photographer Justin Merriman says his photos put the human face on the even and the focus on the people.

"It could be a single solider -- the look in his eyes, the longing for home so far away," says Merriman, 36, a four-time winnerof the Photographer of the Year award from the News Photographers Association of Greater Pittsburgh. "More importantly, my work really delves into the people who live in these environments.

"You'll find that most of my images ... lean toward the humanity aspect -- the people who live in these situations and their plight," he says. "I care about that very deeply. The victims of the war are the people who live with it."

The Oakmont resident will share many of his photographs and the stories behind them at the "Photographing History" event May 22 at the Westmoreland County Historical Society Library in Greensburg. Merriman will discuss the historical value of the photos -- which include some local shots from presidential elections and military events -- and how they are tomorrow's history.

"It's hard, kind of, to see the historical value of photographs," he says of those in a daily news-paper.

"With a lot of these stories, it seems like it's just our job, but 100 years from now, they're the recorded record of these events.

"These are things that are important historically, and I've been fortunate enough to be there and be a witness with my camera," Merriman says.

Merriman's mother -- Janice Merriman, who died in December -- once told a friend with the Westmoreland County Historical Society that she hoped her son would do a presentation there with his photographs, about which he is passionate.

"I take my responsibility very seriously," Merriman says about his art. "For a lot of my subjects who pass before my lens, I'm their only voice."

Kellie B. Gormly is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at or 412-320-7824.


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Source: Pittsburgh Tribune-Review (PA)

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