It all began at a dinner party ten years ago. I found myself seated next to Vice Admiral Robert S. Harward, currently Deputy Commander of the U.S. Joint Forces. I was intrigued by Harward's experience as a Navy SEAL and as we talked, our conversation further sparked my curiosity.
After the events of 9/11, I realized that the world of Navy SEALs was still shrouded in secrecy. I wanted to explore and shed light upon this culture that most people had never seen nor fully understood. Most of all, I wanted to share it with others in a way that was patriotic but not political.
I knew that my childhood friend Jennifer Walton was the perfect person to work with me on the project, as we shared many of the same interests and passions. I presented the idea for a photography book about SEALs to Vice Admiral Harward, and his support, along with his confidence in our integrity, helped us to obtain an unusually high level of access from the military within only a few months.
Jennifer and I soon embarked on an incredible journey, knowing we had been given an extremely rare opportunity. Yet gaining access did not mean immediate acceptance from the SEALs. One official told us it would take tenacity and very tough skin to make it work. There was no instruction manual--we had to follow our hearts and our vision and figure it all out on our own. We began the project with open minds and worked hard to earn the respect and the trust of the men and their families.
We are not journalists, a fact that helped us in our endeavor. We approached the project with a unique point of view and a rare level of sensitivity. Our presence was not threatening and we always knew when to back off and respect boundaries. While we were among the SEALs, we witnessed a fundamental shift in their culture. It was a pivotal moment in U.S. history, and we felt honored to have been chosen by these men to share in their lives and experiences at such a time.
Our top priority was to tell the story of the SEALs accurately and to honor the men, women, and children who are part of the Naval Special Warfare community. The book was born out of friendship, trust, and integrity and the result is a tribute to the sacrifices Navy SEALs and their families make every day.
PHOTOS FROM THE BOOK:
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