Yesterday I spent the afternoon joining Mark and Jen Schultz of 4 Wheel To Heal and Peter Ballantyne of Cal-Diego Paralyzed Veterans Association on a morale visit at the Spinal Cord Injury Unit of the V.A. Hospital in La Jolla, California. Both of these non-profit organizations do wonderful things for wounded and disabled Veterans, getting them out to enjoy activities that they might not otherwise have a chance to enjoy such as off-roading, camping, golfing, scuba diving, motorsports and much more. (Full disclosure - I am a volunteer with 4 Wheel To Heal.)
I had a great time meeting some of our country's Warriors and getting to spend some time talking with them. We had originally planned to take some photos inside the hospital, but after thinking about it, it didn't seem right to give them gifts (we brought them T-shirts as well as survival bracelets with thank you notes that people had purchased for them at the 4W2H booth set up at events) and then ask for permission to take their photo. We didn't want anyone to feel obligated. These guys have been through enough and I would never want to do anything that might make them feel uncomfortable.
They wanted some shots taken in front of the hospital with their vehicles. We had to move fast because we were blocking the entrance a bit. I love it when people are willing to have some fun with group shots, there is nothing more boring than a static shoulder-to-shoulder posed shot!
Then I set up the lights for some shots of Mark and Jen Schultz. Here's Mark Schultz, co-founder of 4 Wheel To Heal, looking pretty badass! Mark is active duty Navy and a real-life badass. This is a great example of what a huge difference you can make by bringing in off-camera lighting. All of these photos were shot at midday in a parking lot with the sun coming from the same direction, but the natural-light-only shot doesn't have real depth because the light is flat and harsh. Bringing in off-camera lighting gives me more control of the scene.
I didn't want to go quite as dramatic for the shot with his wife Jen. I love the hard light look for guys but it's not always the most flattering look for women. For her I opened up my aperture a bit to lighten the background and brighten up the image a little more.
All of these shots were done very quickly with minimal set up because Peter had to leave and the rest of us were STARVING! We just needed a couple quick shots for social media posts for the organizations. Thank you Mark and Jen for buying me lunch before I passed out!
These are both fantastic organizations that are worthy of your support. If you follow me because you are into wheeling and off-roading, 4 Wheel To Heal will be bringing ten disabled Vets out to King of the Hammers in two weeks. Look for their booth and stop by to check them out. If you donate $10 or more toward Operation KOH they will send you some awesome stickers for your rig. Donations can be made on their website 4W2H.org. Funds goes towards the cost of the motorhomes to house the vets, their travel expenses, food and entry to the event. They also have some great merchandise for sale on their website. I love the hoodie I bought!