I like this photo.
It is that of a very ordinary guy stripped of his uniform. A simple man. Of me, without bling-bling. Part of me likes to wear the uniform. It’s reassuring. It creates a distance from people – in distance there is safety. The problem with this is that this distance limits the ability to connect with our environment. And for a guy who suffers from post-traumatic stress disorder – me! – isolation is probably one of the least therapeutic things.
Watching this photo makes me feel good.
It allows me to uncover who I am without armour : The broken-up guy. The tired guy. But also the guy who looks ahead with confidence. Who is serene. A guy in nuance : not a hero, but not a zero either. Just me.
It feels good to be just oneself.
Stephen J. Thorne is a photojournalist who has been to Afghanistan and the Balkans more than once. He contacted me somewhere in the spring of 2017 to probe my interest in participating in a Legion Magazine story entitled “Portrait of Inspiration”. My first questions for him were not intended to validate his project, but rather to validate HIM. Who are you? Where do you come from? My previous experiences conditioned my mind not to distinguish between the journalist and his project.
If the first one speaks to me, the project will speak to me. Not the opposite.
I quickly established trust with Stephen. His candour regarding his past projects on the other side of the big pond. His mental health challenges. His desire to give voice to ordinary humans who have gone through extraordinary paths. Its authenticity. I accepted his offer. I jumped in.
My portrait found itself surrounded by others wounded brothers & sisters of arms in the pages of Legion Magazine.
Then, today, you can see it on the walls of the Canadian War Museum.
For the exhibition : https://www.warmuseum.ca/event/the-wounded/