I decided to submit a photo series for LensCulture Portrait Awards 2015. Based on the description for the category, I knew what I wanted to do.
“Often we think of portraits as single images but a series of portraits can work in many different ways. For example, a portrait series could show different members of a group or even offer a more conceptual, less direct approach, without portraying the subject itself. In short, we’re open to ALL interpretations of what makes an interesting portrait. You can submit up to 10 photos that work well together as a group—thematically or aesthetically or in telling a story—and as a cumulative portrait.”
My first thought after reading the criteria? “Christopher’s photos from last July would be perfect.” I included an explanation behind each photograph I submitted as part of this series. This is my submission…
Until next time,
“Death Smiled At Me”
Christopher was injured by an IED in Afghanistan on September 28, 2011. He was helping an injured soldier when it happened, “just doing his job” as a medic. I captured glimpses of his story as he shared details he remembered from that fateful day. He told me he usually was not eager to share so much from that experience, but he did just that in front of me. He let me truly see him during our time together–heart, skin, and soul.
“My Favorite Leg”
His favorite leg–it’s heavy and has a semi-automated movement feature to help him walk. He mentioned it is especially helpful while walking on an incline. He’s proud of his prosthetic leg, and he walks ever so confidently.
“Healing On the Court”
He proudly bares his new leg on the basketball court, where he used to play in his wheelchair with other recovering soldiers, at the Center for the Intrepid.
“I Thought I Was Blind”
These are the sunglasses he was wearing on September 28th. “It happened so fast,” he told me. “I thought I was blind, but it was just dirt covering my glasses.” You can clearly see the dirt caked on–everything left in its raw state from the blast.
“Three Years Later”
Christopher had not put his sunglasses back on since his accident. But in front of me, in front of the camera, he braved it. He slid on the dirt-caked sunglasses, and stared right through me.
“Reliving That Day”
“I was helping someone–just doing my job. But then I was the one in need of rescuing.” His raw facial expressions while sharing took me to that day in Afgahnistan–where he was scared, confused, and feeling helpless.
“I Wouldn’t Give Up”
He continued sharing his story with me–the fragments he carries with him every day. He did not realize how badly his left arm was injured until he tried putting a tourniquet on his own leg. “My arm just wouldn’t work, but still I tried.”
“I Carry My Comrades Daily”
This image sums up his story. He is flesh and blood; a fragile yet strong life. He chose to serve in the military because he felt called. During his service, he made a sacrifice that would ultimately change the direction of his future. He now bares the physical and emotional reminders. He is titanium.
Christopher is currently pursuing a degree in Physical Therapy. His experience makes him a wonderful example of overcoming challenges and dealing with change resulting from war. He is full of optimism, courage, and passion. His circumstances have shaped and molded him, and now he is going to help others rise up.