Some people serve their country by holding a gun—others by holding a camera. Stacy Pearsall began as an Air Force photographer, but then she was wounded in action. She found herself in the hospital together with other vets and began taking their portraits. That’s when she discovered there was more to taking their portraits than just getting the technical aspects right:
Through working with the Veterans Portrait Project, Pearsall found that real connection was happening during the dialogues:
“The interview process is actually more important than the execution of taking the photographs themselves. It’s that process, that communication, that allows the veteran to feel vulnerable, to open up, to be exposed.”
She discovered that many of the veterans’ experiences were quite similar to hers, regardless of age, what war they fought in, or even what gender they were. By creating a rapport with her subjects, it brought her that much closer to them and their shared experiences.
In the end, Pearsall found the project therapeutic for both herself and the veterans on the other side of the camera.
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