There are few events in American history that exemplify heroism more than the actions of Japanese-Americans during World War II. While the U.S. government had put their families and communities in internment camps based solely on their ethnicity, the brave Japanese-American men of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, 100th Infantry Battalion, and Military Intelligence Service were giving their all in defense of their country.
In segregated units, they died in the fields of Italy to rescue The Lost Battalion, liberated Holocaust victims in Dachau, and provided critical translations in the Pacific theater. In 2010, they were awarded the highest civilian honor with the Congressional Gold Medal of Honor.
This year, the gold medal is touring the United States, and this past Saturday it came to Portland, Oregon for its stay at the Oregon Historical Society. A friend of mine’s grandfather and great uncle were recipients, and she suggested the opening ceremony might be a good photography opportunity. While the location presented multiple challenges photography-wise (glass and glare, inconsistent lighting, and busy backgrounds), it was also an opportunity to meet these incredible men in person and to help preserve this important moment.
The men honored were proud but humble in the face of such a huge recognition. They were stoic when listening to speeches or reciting the Pledge of Allegiance, but friendly and warm in candid moments.
I’m happy that they have received recognition for their accomplishments, and I’m glad I had the opportunity to capture it to share it with you all.
“I have a photography assignment for you… Salmon Street Springs Fountain.”
Recently we had a heat wave in Portland, Oregon. Here that is 90 degrees Fahrenheit or more which may not be hot compared to your summer weather but it’s scorching to local residents. The fountain in downtown Portland was recommended to me as a photo opportunity because during the summer, and especially during a heat wave, people are likely to be playing in the water.
It may seem cliche’ but fountain shots are always fun and sometimes you have a white balance challenge, especially during sunset, when this photo was shot. The first photo you see above is my favorite of the session. The fountain had changed and I didn’t think the spray was appealing to the camera. As the sunset descended towards the horizon people were going home for the day. But I decided to hang out more and as you can see above, I got a bit lucky.
There is an explosion of water behind her. You see so many photos of kids running from actual explosions these days it’s refreshing to see a kid running from the soft and playful explosion of water instead. It’s how it should be.
This second photo is busy. You can make the case the buildings in the background are a distraction. I like this second photo of Salmon Street Springs anyway. It captures everything that was happening at that moment. How many different stories are at play here? Also, this was shot at a 55mm focal length which I love for its realism.
Exploring and being spontaneous on your own is good. Planning your own photo shoots is good too. But sometimes you’ll be rewarded if you listen and take others up on their recommendations. I really didn’t feel like going downtown that day but now I’m happy that I did.