On the last and final day of the Vietnam Veteran’s Reunion a luncheon was held at the local VFW. Friends and family gathered one more time to share stories and a meal together. Gifts were raffled away and contact information was exchanged. It was the close of a very successful gathering of American Heroes. For me it provided opportunity to do something I had wanted to do the entire three days, take actual portraits of the veterans.

I brought in a large black backdrop, a beauty dish and a medium size reflector. For shots of one or two people I placed them close to the reflector, set the strobe on it lowest power and shot with as a shallow depth of field as possible. I just wanted their eyes and facial features to be sharp and let the other features blur slightly. The light was set on a boom directly overhead with the reflector set to reflect back into the shadows on the underside of the face. I figured the beauty or clam shell lighting would soften shadows on the face giving a complimentary lighting to the subjects regardless of age or gender. This worked fine for one to two subjects, for larger groups I moved the reflector out and pulled the light back  raising its power to allow me to get a deeper depth of field.

When it was over I was exhausted. Three days of working alone moving and carrying gear, standing for hours at a time on concrete had definitely taken its toll physically. Emotionally however it felt great. I learned that the veterans of the Vietnam War still carry some hurt and in some cases anger over how they were treated when they came home. They had served their country in one of the most controversial wars in our history and as a result many of them had never been welcomed home. “All gave some, some gave all” was a reminder of how their lives had been forever altered by the war. To this men and their families who served our nation I personally want to say thank you and though it may be late, welcome home.