There are pictures, and then there are Pictures; and while they may be worth a thousand words, some of them speak with a force and immediacy that cannot easily be ignored. These photographs, taken by a twenty-something kid on the rolling deck of an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea in 1971, are just such images.
That kid, of course, is my brother Jim, and the camera he used was the Nikon Photomic F that I profiled a couple months ago in a post here. He recently rediscovered the treasure trove of his Ektachrome slides and black & white negatives and prints and set upon the task of scanning and restoring them. It's the project of a lifetime, and eminently worthwhile, that allows us to catch a first-hand glimpse into a life shared by few, and a history fading from view.
I love these photographs. They're just straight prints, minimally processed, no photoshop other than to size them for the web. The eye is unschooled but the vision is clear and straightforward, leading from this point onward to a man who would become an artist, a humanist, a healer. And a damn good photographer.
We're captivated by photographs from the war front, from the Civil War, the World Wars, Vietnam (such as these) all the way to Iraq and Afghanistan. Ones taken by the famous war photographers are forever seared into our consciousness, but just as powerful are the ones taken by the young soldiers and sailors just trying to make it through the day.
Just like that kid on the rolling deck of an aircraft carrier in the South China Sea in 1971.