In 2015, the AIPP sought amongst its members who might be interested to volunteer in a photography project to honour our remaining World War II Veterans. It was a nation-wide project to photograph our living heroes. I volunteered to be part of this project as it was such an important thing to do within my local community but also as part of a nationally significant record.
What began for me as a interesting photography project turned into something so much more meaningful. I met over 100 veterans and their families and I was touched by their stories and strength of character. Some things were very sad and quite painful for them to reflect on and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to honour them by taking their portraits. The one thing I remember is that they were all so proud to be part of the book and to be remembered, even though they never said so themselves. Being humble and low-key seemed to be their attitude, or a way to deal with what they experienced. They told me stories of near death experience, flying bombers over Europe, wonderful adventures with mates, camaraderie that endures to this day, witnessing signing of treaties and coming home.
I've had more than a cup or two and home-baked cakes with them. But to take the time to talk them was what was important to them. Although many did not talk specifically about their time in the service, all shared a sense of their lives being changed after that time.
Home is what they treasured. Our homes and our world is made safer by what they did. We will never experience what they had to endure 75 years ago. These frail 90-plus year old people whom you would never give a second thought to in our everyday lives, did things we can only imagine.
Looking at their photographs now, makes me sad as some have passed away. One veteran passed away the day after his portrait was taken. I remember his daughter calling me to tell me how important that photograph is now to her family.
To photograph them means we will remember them and never forget.
UPDATE 15th August 2017
I was invited to attend the official handover of the 6000+ photographs taken for Reflections project. They are now permanently displayed in a new installation at the Australian War Memorial in Canberra. The official presentation was incredibly moving.
Make the visit or view all photographs that are displayed at:
These photographs are part of over 6500 taken by hundreds of AIPP photographers who volunteered their time. They will be collated into a book that will go on display in the Australian War Memorial, Canberra. Date to be advised.)