One of the greatest things as photographer is to have your images used for the purpose that they were taken for. I have found that there is one exception to that rule.
In July of 2010 I joined a group of soldiers that would become my family, we lived together, ate together, slept next to each other, we sweated together and bled together. One of the things that we were great at was giving each other hell on a daily basis not because we didn’t like each other but because we cared. One of the things that you do as a military photographer is you take a lot of portraits, some for offical use with someone in their best dress and sometimes you get someone after they just completed a gruelling obstacle and you get them at their real best. Since we were going off to war I set up to do what we called the “hero shot” It was incase something happened in Afghanistan and we needed a picture of one of our guys.
I set up predawn on a early fall day day with a MATV (armored truck) as a backdrop and use the rising sun as my light. Most of the guys didn't want to do this picture mainly for the fact that they didn't want to put on their body armor that early in the day. But they did and we we got through all of their shots quickly.
Luckily we never had to had to use these images and we gave everyone their own and over the years I’ve seen them used for Facebook profiles off and on. A few months ago i saw it used for it for what it was intended for and I was heart broken. A great guy and amazing soldier that I had served with had passed away and his family had used his hero shot for his obituary
I love to see my work out there but not for this. Its one of the worst feeling that i had while seeing my photo but at the same time i felt honored that they had used it. I am glad that I got up that day and set up in the predawn hours and honored that these amazing men and women allowed me to take their portraits. I will be forever humbled by their sacrifice and dedication to their country and their bothers and sisters on the front line next to them.