Veterans Book Project Update

Filed under: Work in Progress; Author: mas; Posted: January 11, 2009 at 2:31 pm;

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Warning: If you’re not interested in the nitty details of the anatomy of a documentary photo project, stop here.
It’s been a month since I first posted about this project.  Since then, I attended a holiday party with Veterans for Peace, took a few photos there, talked with some of the vets, made some tentative appointments to photograph, and made some new connections.  It is all very intentional work geared toward gaining access.  Access seems to be the key word, both in terms of getting past beauracracy, but also in terms of getting the subjects (in this case the vets) to let me in emotionally.

I contacted a guy (whose name actually is Guy) who is a mover and shaker in the area of justice for homeless and incarcerated vets.  He knows everybody connected with the shelters, some of which he helped start, and he is willing to put me in touch with all the right people.  I met with him yesterday to iron out some access problems with some organizations, whereupon he immediately called half a dozen guys to get me access and actual subjects.  On the way out the door we literally ran into one of the vets he was involved in helping, and Guy asked him if I could take his picture.

Of course I had a camera with me, but I was mentally unprepared, thinking I was only meeting to gather info, so I’m not totally pleased with the photo, but either it will have a place in the layout, or I will track down JR and take some more.

As of yesterday, I have enough contacts to flesh out the homeless and incarcerated component of the book.  I also have an appointment with one of the vets who is connected with many of the homeless vets who stay at one of the shelters.

Regarding above photos: Guy Gambill, veteran, formerly homeless, incarcerated, giving a presentation on veterans’ justice issues; JR, gunner during Desert Storm. JR feels betrayed by the people who sent him to fight and abandoned him afterward.

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