We have so many amazing people in the ShowIt community, including those who protect and serve. In honor of Veteran’s Day in the USA, and Remembrance Day in Canada, I asked Showiteer Ryan Shephard to tell me about his transition from the U.S. Navy to photography. Take it away, Ryan!!
In 2011, my Executive Officer called me into his office. It had been a while since I had heard from him and since we are in such a small and exclusive community, I really thought that he was going to inform me that our crew had won an award from the Pacific Fleet. Our Radar Operator, Eric, is an incredibly diverse instructor and one of the best in the Fleet. Our Tactical Coordinator and Pilots were among the best. We really had a great couple of deployments so we were all looking forward to hearing about follow on orders to instructor tours. That is not what it was about. My XO said that the Wing needed a person for a specific operator duty and since I had been there and done that job before, my name had popped.
I was issued orders to Fort Jackson in South Carolina and at that time, my family was on vacation there in Hilton Head. Had no clue I was going to be that close and my wife and I wanted to announce her pregnancy of our first boy, Declan. We came downstairs that Saturday with killer shirts on that said “Life Begins, May 2012.” I was incredibly stoked- then MY life came crashing down that afternoon. My Dad had called from Missouri and I was so stoked to tell him the news- he was going to be a Grandfather to an Irish boy named Declan. When I picked up the phone, he told me to sit down. He had Stage 4 cancer with only a few months left. I then told him he was going to be a Grandpa. We both cried, and 6 months later he was gone.
When I was overseas, I asked my wife Gretchen if I could get a camera. I wanted to photograph Declan when I came home from deployment. I missed his birth by 4 weeks. I wasn’t a photographer, just a guy who needed some photos of his family. After my Father passed, I wanted our childhood photos back but they had been destroyed. This is how I got started in photography.
[pullquote] Smiles, love, heart and soul….and coffee, cold evenings, campfires, wine, your soul mate.[/pullquote] In 2013, I applied for my business license and started shooting. I truly believe that something so beautiful came out of something so tragic. I love the look of a bride and groom so in love on their wedding day. Their gorgeous details, their love stories, the one belief that got them there is always a story of true love. One of my favorite verses from the bible is “The LORD does not look at the things man looks at. Man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at the heart.” (1 Samuel 16:7)
I personally would like to thank the ShowIt community for giving me my start in this industry in such a short time and for taking the time to recognize all of the Veterans who have served. I truly love my Brothers and Sisters in Arms and I believe that without them, this country would not be free. Happy Veterans Day to all who have served. We salute you!
Thanks so much Ryan for sharing your story with us, and for everything you do for our country. We value your service! If you want to check out more of Ryan’s work, visit his website, or leave him some love and like him on Facebook.
Happy Veteran’s & Remembrance Day, everyone- don’t forget the sacrifices so many selfless people make so we can be free.
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