Conduct Becoming: Surveys in Distinction
The only thing I like better than telling a good story, is hearing a great story. What I love even better is if I am given permission to translate that story into compelling images. Most of my work starts with this premise: telling a story through images. This series, Conduct Becoming: A Survey of Distinction, originated with a commission by Dr. Monica Lypson to produce a set of images to be used as part of the University of Michigan Medical School’s curriculum.
While putting together the treatment and background work for this project, I realized I had an opportunity to take this project a step further and create environmental portraits of the veterans I would be photographing. I wanted to create a study of the professional versus the private, the soldier versus the individual; the contrast of these elements is highlighted by the use of a chiaroscuro style of lighting.
The military focuses specifically on stripping the young civilian of his or her individuality and recreating him or her into one of a million other identical soldiers. This is, of course, not without good reason. I became very interested in what this sameness becomes when it is mixed with the individual and their experiences through the lens of time. Observing this shared identity and the way in which it manifests in their lives post-military was only possible by experiencing their personal environments.
I came to this project with preconceived notions of what the military is. As a photographer and an artist, you might well imagine what these notions were. However, after hearing the stories of these great men and women, I have found that my ideas about the military have changed. I might go so far as to say I found myself feeling disappointed that I had not offered my service to the country. My hope is for this work is to be a contribution and to somehow pay homage to those who have served. It has been my great honor to be able to tell these stories.