This story was originally posted when I first started this blog, and because of the significance of the work (to me) and the dramatic increase on folks visiting this blog I wanted to dust it off for more people to see.
Of all the work (photographically) I have done, these two images are what I am most proud of. Though they may have little to do necessarily with photographic skills, the families (and fellow veterans) think them to be wonderful “pictures”.
I was a green beret during Vietnam, so the fact that seven boys (literally, boys) from this small town in southern Maine where I live did not come home is of significance to the people who live here.
After more than 30 years (and for the first time) I finally visited the Vietnam War Memorial. While there I took a picture of the panels that have the names of these two of young men inscribed on them.
Here is a (very abbreviated) overview of what I did In Photoshop:
1. Burnt all but their names so they were pushed to the background but still viewable
2. Painted their names white to make them stand out
3. Took one of their old pictures and converted it to digital
4. Combined their old photo with the photo of the wall that bore their name
It was difficult at times working on these images, having these young men literally “looking” back at me… and at one point the Pink Floyd song “Wish You Were Here” came on the radio… I will save you the details; suffice it to say I was glad no one else was at home.
Then it came time to give them to the families. Roberts family had been told something was going to be delivered to them, all of the family and friends in the area had gathered at the house and were waiting… after they passed the picture around several times and looked at it for awhile, they all climbed in their cars and headed to the nursing home where his mom now resides, so she could see it.
Rays family was equally as grateful; his brother has been to my studio more than once to thank me.
I did not do these for praise or recognition, but because these boys deserve to be remembered and I wanted to do my part to make sure that happens.