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This is a series about Mr. William Bonelli who is a WWII Veteran serving with the 773rd Bomb Squadron of the 463rd Bomb Group. Mr. Bonelli is a B17 mechanic, technician and a pilot. He was awarded the Distinguished Flying Cross and is also a survivor of Pearl Harbor attack. In the background of these images is the B17 the Memphis Belle.
I have been going to the World War II Days event held every year over the D-Day weekend (June 6) in Reading Pennsylvania for about 18 years. My interest in the World War II era, the waning numbers of the veterans still alive and in decent health, as well my need to do some personal projects that will be meaningful, historic and on several levels were the main motivating factors for this project. The goal of this assignment is to capture archival images of history, humanity and sacrifice while portraying these WWII Veterans as larger than life.
The approach was fun, exciting, and at times very challenging. The plan was to contact the Veterans via telephone prior to the event. Arrive at the airshow Friday to make contact with potential veterans, scout the locations of each aircraft, do test shots, talk with the warbird owners, the museum owners and any other entity that needed to be cleared for photography. The difference for this assignment from years past, is the posing of veterans in front of warbirds with the addition of strobe lights on stands near aircrafts. Truthfully, the biggest challenge was whether these veterans could walk the 1/3 of a mile trek across the airfield to their chosen Warbird for a portrait session.
The veterans, the warbird owners, Mr. William Bonelli and myself are all thrilled with the results of the larger than life portrayal of the WW II veterans bathed in a dramatic yet natural lighting situation in front of their chosen Warbirds as the main background element. As a note, the veterans who were contacted prior to the event were not interested upon my arrival; the in-person, the cold calls were however 90% successful. These images will be used in up-coming direct mail and email blasts as well as portfolio prints.