FACES OF FREEDOM
An Orange County photographer chronicles the honor, courage and integrity of our heroes.
My love affair with photography began in high school as a shooter for my school yearbook and newspaper. Even then, my passion was—and continues to be–to create compelling images of people; more specifically, to create images of people that make the viewer stop and contemplate the story behind the image.
I’ve always had a special place in my heart for our nation’s military personnel, and have been blessed in my lifetime to know a number of servicemen and women. My father was in the US Air Force. My father-in-law was a career marine. My pastor recently retired from service as a naval chaplain. I’ve a number of friends who are either currently active military or veterans. These men and women have sacrificed in ways that I cannot even imagine to preserve MY freedoms. And I felt it my duty and privilege to give a little something back.
To that end, I’ve begun a project that has been brewing for some time in my head: the “Faces of Freedom” portrait project. It’s intended to be a series of simple, elegant, black and white portraits of veterans, each with some memento of their military service: a portion of their uniform, a photograph, a certificate—something that is important to them as a reminder of their service. My goal with this project is not to offer commentary, but simply to honor each of my subjects the best way I know how—a humble “thank you” for doing what I could not. In some cases, this photograph may be the last formal portrait these folks have for their families. Indeed, one of the gentlemen portrayed in the following pages passed away about three weeks after I made his portrait. I had the image here printed, and it was displayed lovingly by the family at his memorial service.
As a founding photographer of Smiles Across the Miles (www.smilesacrossthemiles.org), I have also had the unique privilege of working with some of the finest photographers (and for that matter, the coolest human beings) on the planet to provide pro bono professional portraiture for military personnel and their families. It’s both sobering and humbling to consider that the work we do is part of the thread that keeps military families connected when they’re worlds apart, and I am honored to be a part of it.
The images presented in the following pages are but a few of my favorites. Please take a moment to consider the faces, and the experience behind their gaze. And more importantly, go out of your way in the next few days to thank a veteran for his or her service and sacrifice.
Jon C. Haverstick is an award-winning professional photographer based in Southern California. He is cofounder of Smiles Across the Miles, providing professional pro bono portrait photography to families of those who serve. Samples of his work are available at www.jonhaverstickstudio.com.
Contact via email at firstname.lastname@example.org or
phone at 714-679-4863.
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