14thof August 2017, 72 years after the Victory of the Pacific Day in WW11 the Australian Institute of Professional Photography (AIPP) handed over the largest photography collect in Australian History to the Australian War Memorial.

The photography collection was a national project which comprised of surviving WW11 veterans some 70 years after they gave their time for service.  Over 6500 photographs are now a permanent display at the AWM taken by over 450 professional photographers nationally who donated their time and skills. This was a collaborative between the AIPP, AWM and RSL clubs. Each veteran WW11 received a 5×7” photo free.

 

Photographer Mrs. Deanna Dunbar of Deanna Photographics in 2015 based at Tintinara, photographed surviving WW11 veterans between  Victor Harbor, Murray Mallee right through to Penola. Deanna was one of two South Australian representatives to attend the AWMemorial to hand the collection over.  Deanna started the project in Murray Bridge May 2015 and took her last portrait in Murray Bridge Dec 2016.

“She was amazed at how many veterans were still alive in the region.”

“There was no database to locate the WW11 veterans, the search began through RSL clubs, nursing homes and via print media. Once word got out so many wanted to be involved.”

 

 

“To be able to take this collection to the AWMemorial in Canberra is a career highlight.”

“The veterans maybe disappearing but their faces will now be remembered forever.” Deanna said

 

“Not a dry eye was in the AWM before it opened to the public Tuesday Morning as the collection was being handed over.”

 

Director of the War Memorial Dr. Brendan Nelson welcome a small crowd that included about 4 WW11 veterans and 30 photographers who had traveled nationally for this special private event opening. Dozens of media made up small the crowd.

 

Dr Brendan Nelson said, “When he looks back at his time as director of the AWMemorial that this project  called AIPP Reflections will rank as amongst the most significant and meaningful.” Dr. Brendan Nelson agreed to be the patron of the AIPP Reflections project from the outset.

 

 

The largest photographic project was ever undertaken in Australia, Reflections started in 2015 and took two years to complete. The portraits have been donated to the Australian War Memorial to be displayed as part of a special photography installation in the Second World War galleries.

 

Memorial Director Brendan Nelson said that looking into the faces of this remarkable generation of Australians was an emotional experience.

“This is the best generation this country has ever produced,” he said.

“These men and women were born in the aftermath of the war that was. They came to their adult lives through the Great Depression under the shadows of the war that was coming and they mobilised … to defend our vital interests.

“Six years later we emerged from the Second World War with 40,000 dead and an indeterminate number bearing deep and psychological wounds for their service and then they set about the economic reconstruction of our country.

“It’s actually very powerful and extremely moving to hear the descriptions of the photographers and their own experiences of photographing these men and women; the stories of veterans well into their nineties wanting to have their photograph taken with a mate they hadn’t seen for 50 years; of families wanting to be very much a part of the photograph; and the lengths the photographers went to.

 

Quote AWM press release https://www.awm.gov.au/articles/blog/aipp_reflections

 

In South Australia alone we photographed over 1200 veterans with close to 40 photographers. It was a real team effort, “We learned to adapt and overcome the challenges of photographing  this precious generation, and traveled as far and wide as we could to ensure that no-one was missed”

 

“What amazed me the most was it seemed that the Veterans were ready to tell their stories, many family members had never heard of what had happened in the war!”

“The still remembered their service numbers like it was only yesterday.”

“When the jackets and medals when on, theses WW11 stood with pride.”

“Their stories have humbled me, it was an emotional journey through an era we can only imagine. These men and women came home many without their families and mates and had to rebuild their lives and their country. They are a generation that just got the job done!”

“As photographers we normally fly solo, but this project united us nationally, it strengthened the AIPP, we had the opportunity to showcase the value of professional portraiture and it importance in all age groups, but best of all we (the AIPP) gave a special gift to thousands of families who will now have a precious keepsake to show future generations.”

 

All the quotes are Deanna Dunbar