WW2 Veterans Personal Portraits

September 16, 2015

Photographing WW2 veterans has been an emotional and rewarding experience for Kevin and me.  We can fall into the trap of disregarding elderly people and forgetting that they were young once and lived through extraordinary times.  If you get a chance to spend even 5 minutes with these people, as Kevin and I have done during this project, you will be amazed by the stories they have to tell.  Since March, the AIPP Accredited Professional Photographers have photographed 5,500 veterans and the project has now been extended for two months, culminating on 11th November 2015.

To date, Kevin and I have photographed 61 veterans and hope to have the opportunity to do some more.  Our lives have been enriched beyond measure by each and every one of these vets - we really count ourselves lucky to be involved - and I would like to share a couple of special memories with everyone. Portrait Photography of Wireless Operator in 2/3 Composite A/A Signal SectionPortrait Photography of Wireless Operator in 2/3 Composite A/A Signal SectionProfessional portrait photography of remaining World War Two veterans taken in conjunction with the Australian Institute of Professional Photography's Reflections Project commemorating the centenary of the Anzac tradition. These are personal portraits of special men and women, some taken with family members and some with mementos of the war.

Sitting here, thinking about our experiences, I must say I am amazed by the response we have received from "our vets".  Not only have we been thanked profusely at the end of each session, we have received so many telephone calls, cards and letters in appreciation of our efforts when in reality we should be thanking them for all their sacrifices!  Our current generation could learn a lot about good manners from them.  However, it was during a telephone conversation with one of our lovely home visit vets, that I gained an insight into just how much this means to them.  He went to war with 40 men and fought with them for several years. Together they faced horror, overcame fear or learned to press on regardless.  After the war, they would meet and talk about their shared experiences in a way they could do with no-one else.  George is now the sole survivor of his group and can only talk to himself, which he says he does from time to time.  He is so very happy to know that he and his mates will be remembered thanks to the AIPP Reflections project.

The other lesson I have learned from these meetings is to appreciate every moment of every day.  Despite the years of war these men and women endured, they have an outstanding capacity to enjoy life.  One gentleman, 96 years young said "I fell off the roof a couple of years ago, which has slowed me down! No more tennis but still ten pin bowling on Tuesdays".  OMG I can only hope I am half as good IF I reach my nineties.

A huge thank you to each and every veteran we have been honored to meet and photograph.  We began this project to give something of ourselves to you and honor your courage but we have received much more in return.  I feel your lessons can be summed up in the quotes below:

"I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear" — Nelson Mandela

“Mind your own business and don’t eat junk food. Treat everyone the way you want to be treated, work hard and love what you do.” - Besse Cooper, 116 years young

If you would like to have a look at some of our personal portraits, go to http://www.kevinchamberlain.com.au/world-war-2-vets