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PhotoSensitive Picture Change : Summer of the Gun

WARNING - There is GRAPHIC CONTENT in this blog which may offend some people.


Rick Madonik, Staff Photographer, @Rmadonik

PhotoSensitive's Picture Change is now on display at Royal Bank Plaza's Terrace (200 Bay Street) and will be there for a few weeks. It will then travel to six other locations around Toronto, and I hope you will find the opportunity to walk through the exhibit. It is a strong reminder to us all how important still images are.


One hundred photographers submitted photographs under the theme of Picture Change, in other words, how a picture has caused change. The exhibit showcases a collection of photographs from a host of very talented people from across the country. The idea was formulated and organized under the auspices of PhotoSensitive (http://www.photosensitive.com), a collective of photographers formed years ago. One of the founding members is former Star photographer, Andrew Stawicki.

I submitted the photos and story of Carlos McIntosh, a young man I encountered while spending the summer of 2005 at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre with reporter Tanya Talaga as we researched a number of stories for a fall feature.

McIntosh is one of those "worst case" scenarios. His crime, as far we could ever determine, was leaning on the wrong person's car. For his transgression, he was shot multiple times and hospitalized for months, fought a number of infections, had his multimple amputations including his right leg (at the hip), his left leg (below the knee), a number of fingers of his left hand, and suffered brain damage from blood loss.

His life, and that of his family's, was irrevocably changed that night.

But Carlos survived. Changed, altered, but alive.

Carlos's story was the metaphor for the summer of 2005. A summer which saw a spike in gun violence (and especially death by gun). Gun violence was the talk of the city. McIntosh's story helped expose the catastrophic damage victims go through after the news report of someone being shot is recognized in the media. The healing, the pain, the prognosis for recovery, all play - or should play - into the social psyche of the community.

Sometimes these sad stories do not resonate with the general public. After all, the violence is usually restricted to certain "elements" or "areas" and doesn't affect the average person.

But that's a wrong assertion also. Yesterday was a year since the mass shooting on Danzig Street. Twenty five people - the vast majority innocent bystanders - were hit by bullets when two gangs squared off in the midst of a street party. When such reckless behaviour of the few spills out to invade the security of the community, is when we, as a society, tend to take more notice.

When we explored Carlos's story, both Tanya and I felt very strongly on its importance. Perhaps idealistically, we hoped, telling the story (in pictures and in words) would affect change. Honestly, it doesn't to have appeared to sway the general lack of respect for life, but hopefully, somewhere along the line someone somewhere, steered life onto a different track after they, or a family member, read the tragic outcome of this one young man.

Dr. Fred Brenneman examines Carlos McIntosh's abdomen. McIntosh, whose abdominal cavity was closed with plastic as surgeons anticipate additional surgery.

Nurse Sue Bell (left) discuses patient Carlos McIntosh's critical condition as a team of caregivers makes rounds in the CRCU.

Orthopedic surgeon, Dr. Charles Thomson examines the left foot of Carlos McIntosh. Eventually, the foot was amputated.

A tear escapes from Carlos McIntosh's eye following a tracheotomy. Carlos continues to be kept under heavy sedation as he recovers from a multiple shooting.

Carlos McIntosh, awake but unable to follow commands, lays in the CRCU while his dressing on his abdominal wound is changed.

Carlos McIntosh's left hand, as it heals, following amputation of two full digits and portions of another.

Nurse Emily Lamothe wipes the sweat from Carlos McIntosh's brow after arriving on B5 ICU after weeks in the CRCU.

Nurse Emily Lamothe dresses Carlos's numerous sites in an isolation room as he continues to deal with a longstanding infection.



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This is absolutely horrific. I never thought in my wildest dreams bullets could do this kind of damage.

Just focusing on the loss of lives that result from gun violence does not show the true impact of the shootings on people’s lives and society. This side of gun violence must also be told for the stories of gun violence to be complete, hopefully showing this will effect change everywhere.

There is something missing from this story..... He leaned into the wrong car window.....yes the result of a firearm is devastating no doubt, and to the lay person its shocking, but let get to the root of the problem. Equally as shocking would be a photo essay of the carnage drunk drivers leave on their victims and the greater impact alcohol has on society.....

Was Carlos permission asked to take these photos I invite people to think about the TV programs Hollywood feeds people, the A team, and now the other fantasy version which rarely show the consequences Rambo how many innocent people has he killed. The expendables, ? what ever
Iron Man ? Bruce Willis has shot at people how many time. How many innocent people has he shot. This is about conflict resolution techniques Hollywood promotes. What happened to the person who shot Carlo ?
What dysfunctional life had he lived before he chose to shoot a person?

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