The best newspaper photographs are those that in themselves tell the story.
Little did I know the front page photo I took last year of 1999 Miss Pequot Lakes-Crosslake Patti Westlund's crowning moment would become the most controversial picture I've snapped so far.
The photo, which showed her mouth wide open in shock, captured her expression as the crown was placed on her head.
Over the next few days, several Dispatch readers called up and criticized The Dispatch for running that photo, saying we took advantage of Westlund by taking that photo when she had her mouth wide open in astonishment.
One woman called me and angrily asked what I would do if that were my teen-age daughter on the front page of the paper in such a vulnerable pose.
Another woman called The Dispatch Comment Line and said, "If that's the best picture that Jodie Tweed can take then you need to take away her camera."
I talked to Westlund's mom, Gerri, soon after the pageant last January, half expecting her to bite my head off as well. To my surprise, both she and her daughter loved that picture and were delighted to see it on the front page of The Dispatch. Instead of being angry, they wanted copies of the photo.
Patti surprised me when she thanked me during her farewell speech during Saturday's pageant. She thanked me for last week's story I wrote about her difficult battle with weight loss and for the infamous photo I took of her and her tonsils last year. It was a nice gesture from a young woman who impressed me with her maturity, thoughtfulness and wit.
"... And for all of those people who called her up and said they didn't like that photo," Patti said during her speech Saturday. "Shame on you. I loved it."
So there. Vindication at last.
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