American Gothic

2013-7

AmericanGothic By D.J. Bernard Photographer Brownie Harris was having a moment. It was 2010, the early days of Hearts Apart, a Wilmington-based national nonprofit that photographs military families before deployment. Harris was shooting photographs of an Army special operations soldier along with his wife and their two children. The images aren’t just ordinary “say cheese” photos. Harris likes to get families involved in the creative process, and asks them to bring changes of clothing to shoot compelling military shots as well as casual family photos with the aim of capturing what it means to go to war and leave your loved ones behind. “Many families have never experienced a photography shoot like what we do,” says Harris, whose prominent photography career started in New York in the 1970s. There he established the photo department for the city’s flagship PBS station, and shot celebrities for shows by Bill Moyers and Dick Cavett. “It’s easy to take a likeness, but it’s harder to capture the spirit and character of a person,” Harris says. Before the shoot in the Hearts Apart studio on Oleander Drive, Harris asked if the couple needed any additional props. “Just a white apron,” the wife said. “We’ll bring the rest.” What the family brought were enough props to outfit a “Zero Dark Thirty” unit: bags filled with camouflage gear, plastic training rifles, and even Shemagh Afghani headdress scarves. “When they came in, I thought, ‘This is a huge pile of stuff,’” Harris says. “But there were so many possibilities.” The couple had also brought a white broom to match the white apron the wife asked for. Then it struck Harris: “Let’s paint the broom red, white and blue.” { Hearts Apart provides soon-to-be deployed servicemen and women with meaningful pictures of their spouses and children, at no cost. Brownie Harris started Hearts Apart in Wilmington, North Carolina, with Brett Martin, CEO of Wilmington-based data services company Castle Branch. Now the organization has award-winning } photographers volunteering nationwide. Service members receive a DVD of the photo session along with a vinyl bifold card they can take in the field with them, which helps to fight off loneliness and gives them strength during the darker hours of service. 40 WBM july 2013


2013-7
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