Why I’m a Storyteller
It all began in a diner in Northern California years ago and the ending hasn’t been written yet. It’s a journey that has changed our lives, and we want to take you along because it might just change yours. With mastery of f/stop and shutter speed, photography becomes more difficult, challenging us to grow into storytellers and personally connecting us with our subjects through our viewfinders. Photography has this marvelous side benefit that, with the more time we spend with it, the more it becomes a vehicle for change. It affects change in us as well as in others with whom we share and are touched by our images.
It was a gorgeous morning. The ground fog had barely formed as the sun began its climb in the sky. Crews were already busy about the field as the hangar doors slowly opened, the new day’s sun streaking in, bringing light to all the commotion inside. As one would suspect, it was a beehive of activity as preparations were well underway. There I was with a mop in hand drying floors caused by the massive dawn downpour. Oh, the cameras were in hand, but at this moment simply not in use. Then the banner went up, “Honoring the past, inspiring the future!”
Undoubtedly you’ve heard, “A picture is worth a thousand words.” When telling photographically the story of the Greatest Generation and those working to honor their contributions, you need all those thousands of words and then some in every one of your photos to tell their story. That’s what this weekend was all about, honoring the veterans of the 345th Bombardment Group “Air Apaches” and 352nd Fighter Group “Blue Nose Bastards,” WWII aviators who went to war as boys to battle for the cause of freedom. They came back successful to build a country.
The host for this reunion was the Texas Flying Legends Museum. Flying a collection of WWII warbirds flown by some of the best pilots in the business, their mission is honoring the past while preserving and sharing that history to inspire the future. We were there to record and tell this story, sharing it with you, and others across the globe. This is the true calling of photography, what gives it its power to affect change and fill hearts.
On Sept 12th, I’ll join Scott Kelby to host the world premiere of our film, Warbirds and the Men who Flew Them. KelbyOne in conjunction with the Texas Flying Legends Museum takes you behind the scenes and puts you literally in the pilot’s seat in telling this ongoing story. The photographic process, what I go through to make the images to tell the story is very much present, while The Film is about so much more. If you had to sum it all up, you could with one word: passion. The passion those boys had for their country when they went to war. The passion of today’s pilots to honor those men when flying their aircraft. And my passion to be faithful to all of them.
We went about telling this gigantic story through air to air photography. This is just the culmination of years and years of hard work to get to this point. Getting to where we’re in the air with some of the most gorgeous WWII aircraft flying today took first a whole bunch of planning. Knowing your subject is so important in telling its story. In this case, we went right to the source, the vets who lived the story we’re telling in our photos. It was a great honor to have heroes like Dick Cole, Bud Anderson, Charles McGee and many more telling us their personal stories in interviews with them. Then with the help of the pilots of the Texas Flying Legends Museum, flying the photo missions we brought this history alive for our cameras today.
The Film that was produced from this gathering is the first of its kind. With the information gathered and the flying talent present, we set out with the goal to visually create and photograph the aerial battles of WWII. Recreating the conflicts of the Pacific and Aleutian Islands was no easy challenge. Pulling it off safely and photographically took much more than a single camera, but that’s where it all begins.
Every part of this process you can do and accomplish as well. And I’m not talking just aviation photography, but any personal project you are impassioned to photograph and share. Any story that has touched you that you want to touch others with can be fulfilled when you’re behind the camera.
The story is bigger than this blog, bigger than the images that are part of this blog. That’s why we produced The Film. The film crew plane photographing the plane I’m in photographing a B-25 being attacked by a Japanese Zero being flamed by a P-40 Warhawk, phew! This is the action you’ll see and how we got to make that happen. Years in the making, a year in editing, Warbirds and the Men who Flew Them is the chronicle of my personal project that is still ongoing. And it’s a passion I want to share with you as a challenge to you and your photography.
Join us on Sept 12th as we tell the story of the Greatest Generation and those keeping their contributions to our country alive today with our cameras. And when you see a veteran, tell them thanks for their service!