Faces of Sacrifice
Nick Hoeller is a 23 year old photographer based in Medina, Ohio. He is primarily self-taught, but did receive his Associates Degree in Photography. He is passionate about landscape photography, but loves to dabble in other genres as well, especially portrait photography.
Q. What made you decide to take on a project featuring veterans, and why is it important to you? This project is very important to me because my grandpa served in WWII and the Korean War in the Navy. And as I was younger, I didn’t really understand how important it was that he served for our country. So, as I grew older and he passed away, it hit me hard that him serving for our country was so important and I wish I knew that when he was still alive, so I could thank him. I wish I could’ve gathered stories from him and talked to him about his time in service. My mom said he’d talk to her about it, tell her stories, but she never wrote anything down to remember them. So this project is inspired by him, and is meant to document these veterans and write down their stories so no one ever forgets about how important it is for us to honor these people that have sacrificed so much.
Rowena, age 87, Korean War
How did you find your subjects? I found my subjects at the nursing home I used to work at. When I served them their food, they always wore their veteran hats, so I thought it’d be the perfect place. I talked to the administrator and he loved the idea. So I was able to bring my simple light setup and take portraits of veterans that were interested. I also went to another nursing home in my city that my girlfriend works at, so she had connections to the administrator and he also loved the idea. Robert, who was photographed, is actually one of the founders of the photo studio I’m interning at, Kalman & Pabst Photo Group. He was a photographer during the Vietnam War era and had some interesting things to say! So it was nice to get a few people that weren’t from nursing homes to participate in my project as well.
Paul, age 92, WWII
Why do you think it is important to tell the stories of these men and women, and to capture them in front of the camera? I think telling these stories are very important to everyone. These are people who sacrificed so much for our country. These are the people that should not be forgotten. They deserve to be remembered by their stories and honored. To capture them is important in itself. I’m capturing WWII veterans that won’t be here much longer. I’m capturing someone that fought for us — fought for our country. It’s capturing a generation of veterans that will soon disappear, so it’s important to have their stories for generations to come.
What is the most important thing you took away from your time speaking with these amazing veterans? Speaking to these men and women made me realize how thankful I am for the life I live. They gave up so much for our freedom and kept us safe. Some of them didn’t have a choice to go to the war or not, they were just drafted. So living the way we do now just makes me incredibly thankful that we’re not in that position anymore.
Philip, age 89, Korean War
Visit Nick’s website and read the inspiring stories behind each face Nick has photographed.
May 28, 2019 · 4 min read