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06-05-2010, 12:13 AM   #271
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Hillerby, let me ask you the question everyone wants to ask: when will you post more? I really do enjoy reading your posts so please write as much as you can! Maybe we could even get to see a photo or two (or ten ).

06-05-2010, 08:25 AM   #272
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"Other" Shooting Assignments

Before I start rambling on again, I'd like to address the question posted by "Howdy" {A New Member}. I'll continue to post here as long as there is an interest expressed by others and as long as questions continue to arise. I began this thread almost a year ago at the request of another member of this forum and to date we've had something over 19,000 viewed the thread. So long as that continues, i'll be here.
I'll get more photos as I come across them. You have to remember that most of my photos have been packed away in boxes for over 40 years. As we've moved several times during that time, I sometimes think only "God knows where they all are". Nevertheless, I will put more photos up in time. If you'll go back to the beginning of this thread, you'll find that I've already posted several pictures.
Now, to the subject at hand ... "Other Shooting Assignments". We occasionally had other types of assignments other than the "Combat Operations" that I've mentioned so many times. We didn't get them very often, and some were rather boring, but we shot em' anyway. An example would be the typical "Shakes and Grins". These were shots made when someone was given an award, decoration, etc. I hated these and didn't do any when I was in Nam', but did shoot a lot of that kind of stuff when I returned to the Stateside assignment.
The very first assignment I shot when I arrived in country in 1966 was doing the still shots for an "Ammunition Survey" that was being conducted by the Pentagon. When the Pentagon sent the request to our HQ, no one wanted the job, but being newly arrived in country, I was anxious and willing to get to work. The Pentagon had sent a Colonel and two high ranking civilian employees from the D.C. to review, study and report on ammunition and ordinance. They requested a still photographer (me) and a mopic photographer to accomany them. Basically, they were conducting a study on how ordinance was being transported, handled, stored and used in Vietnam. Moreover, they also wanted images of it's effects on the battlefield and on the enemy and their positions.
We traveled up north of Danang and worked our way back south to Saigon. We were in a different location every day, and shooting something different every day. Not a terribly challenging assignment, but it was my first trip out and I enjoyed the experience of being away from HQ for about a week or so.
Another B.S. shoot was an assignment we got to travel to a location where a couple of important communications facilities were being built. This was an assignment for a Department of the Army request. They wanted color slides of the facilitiy itself, as well as the equipment being installed, tested, and utilized. This particular job only took a couple of days and was pretty much boring as hell! Another similar assignment was a trip I made to Cam Ran Bay to shoot the construction of a deep water port that was constructed there.
I shot one assignment for MACV HQ for Genl. Westmorland. He was to make a trip to D.C., or Honolulu, or someplace to give a briefing to some other high ranking officials an requested color slides of a series of Maps, Charts, Graphs, Posters, etc. that were in the "War Room" at MACV. I guess he needed the color slides to use for his "dog and pony show" that was to be given.
There's really only one of the "other assignments" that really sticks with me. I was told that an individual was to pick me up to shoot some color and B/W shots ..... that's all I was instructed! Now this assigment (I learned a year later) was requested by a Federal Agency usually know by 3 alphabetic characters. I'll only say that it was not the I.R.S., F.B.I., or the A.T.F!
Anyhow, this individual in civilian clothing picks me up and we begin to drive to a location in Saigon. The only instruction he gave me were as follow:
1. You can't shoot any photos on the way to the location as they might tend to show the general area of the location of the shoot.
2. You can't shoot any shots of the facility itself from outside as it might reveal the actual location itself.
3. Once inside the building (it appeared to have been a civilian residence) you can't shoot any pictures that include a window or door entry to the outside. Again, this was to prevent identification of the location.
4. You are to shoot photos of me (can't reveal my face .... only the back of head), you will shoot two other individuals in the building.
Now, fast foward a year later, I'm watching the evening news and these photos show up on TV! It turns out the "other two" individuals were a Vietnamese man and his wife. He was the highest ranking NVA officer in American custody at the time. I never learned when, how, or where he was taken, but if I recall, he had been a Colonel in the North Vietnamese Army.
In reflecting on these "other assignments", those are the only ones I remember doing.
As previously mentioned, we did't get these very often but we welcomed them .... boring or not; simply because it would be another day or two that we weren't on "Combat Operations". As a Combat Photographer, we were much more accostomed to being in the field and often tired, hungry, and often shot at. As a result, anything that would get us out of that environment for even a short while was welcomed.
I beginning to "ramble on", so I'll close this post and in my next posting, I'll try to give a little more detail on the Combat Operations.
Thanks again for the interest and the questions.
06-05-2010, 08:43 AM   #273
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Different times, eh?? Today, if you were doing a "special assignment" you'd probably have to fight your way through 25 civilian photogs!! Photograpically, things sure seem different today in the Middle East than V.

Enjoy the stories and recollections Bob - keep 'em coming!! Thanks!
06-05-2010, 09:22 AM   #274
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Chip,
I'm not sure you'd have to fight off the civilian press today as much as then. One of the advantages a Combat Photographer (military) had then and now is that you have access to units and locations that civilians don't.
The other big thing is that because you're wearing a uniform, there is an element of trust and brotherhood that the civilians can never obtain.

06-05-2010, 01:14 PM   #275
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Good points Bob - guess what influenced my thinking was the amount of air time today's press gets/has!! A lot different toady with CNN, MSNBC, Fox news, etc.
06-05-2010, 02:37 PM   #276
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QuoteOriginally posted by ChipB Quote
Good points Bob - guess what influenced my thinking was the amount of air time today's press gets/has!! A lot different toady with CNN, MSNBC, Fox news, etc.
I think they are being fed by a smaller pool in reality. The average modern journalists don't leave the "office" much. Note I said "average." I don't see many photo journalists types sticking out like a Hugh Es or Eddie Adams. They went where the trouble was.
06-06-2010, 07:49 AM   #277
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Blue,
You are absolutely correct! It was a widely know fact among the Combat Photographers, that a lot of the civilian press corps. "covered the war from the hotel bar". There were a few like Henri Huett, Tim Paige, Larry Burrows, and others that tried to go where "things were a happenin". I know that I met a hell of a bunch of them that would hire Vietnamese photographers to go to the field to get the shots, and I even heard that some of them would buy shots from the Combat Photographers; although I never actually had one approach me.
This brings up another aspect of the military Combat Photographers ... we had access and acceptance that the civilians sometimes didn't have. That being said however, it's important to realize that the vast majority of the Combat Photographers work was never as widely published, nor distributed as that of the civilians. Our work was however, widely used by the military to attempt to get "their side of the story out".
The other more prevalent use of the Combat Photographers work was for intelligence, reconnaisance, and "Official Record".
We were usually elated if one of our shots ended up being published by Stars and Stripes, or Leatherneck publications. These of course were normally only read by military personell rather than the civilians.
06-06-2010, 07:49 AM   #278
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QuoteOriginally posted by Blue Quote
I think they are being fed by a smaller pool in reality. The average modern journalists don't leave the "office" much.
No one wants to pay them anymore.

After all, anyone can pick up a camera and take a photo, so why waste money on photographers? Give a scribbler an EOS, and tell them to try to take some pictures between notes. You get a result that's nearly as good, but for only half the cost!

Failing that, trawl flickr for photos you like, then offer the kid that took them five bucks for the rights, in perpetuity.

06-06-2010, 07:52 AM   #279
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QuoteOriginally posted by hillerby Quote
Tim Paige
Did you ever meet Page? (No "I" in there, mate.)

He lent me a G2 once. He's awesome (he lives in Brisbane; can't stand the UK anymore...too cold.)
06-06-2010, 09:01 AM   #280
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Yes, I met Page once as well as Henri Huett, Ron Galloway, Larry Burrows, Horst Faas,and scores of others. I'm sure they probably don't remember it, but I'll never forget meeting those guys nor will I forget all the things I learned from them.
I was after all, just "another GI with a uniform".
06-06-2010, 12:52 PM   #281
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QuoteQuote:
I'll continue to post here as long as there is an interest expressed by other
Could I officially express my interest in this epic thread? You sure can write in a very interesting way and I really do enjoy reading your posts!

If I may ask you about one thing: could you include a bit of information about the photographic side of your assignment? What lenses did you choose for photographing the inside of the building? Did you use flash? The reason I ask those questions is that I strongly feel that I can not only enjoy reading about your work but also could learn a bit in the process (the basic fundamentals of photography have not changed at all). I am talking about the ideas like "F8 and be there" (yes, I read the whole thread!).
06-07-2010, 10:12 PM   #282
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QuoteOriginally posted by hillerby Quote
Yes, I met Page once as well as Henri Huett, Ron Galloway, Larry Burrows, Horst Faas,and scores of others. I'm sure they probably don't remember it, but I'll never forget meeting those guys nor will I forget all the things I learned from them.
I was after all, just "another GI with a uniform".
I won't forget meeting Page, either.

He's a nice guy, really great. Lost a chunk of his brain, quote, "the size of an orange," after helping a wounded Marine back onto a chopper, and still walks with a limp (he was actually paralysed for a year.)



(That was taken with the Contax G2 he lent me. He asked if anyone in the course was still shooting film, and I was the only one who put a hand up. So he came up to me later and said, "Every shot with a Contax G2?" "No," I said, "Fine. I'll bring one in for you tomorrow - what lens would you like on it?" "The f2 45mm Planar!" I said, a little too fast.)

I've got a copy of Tim Page's NAM, which he signed for me ("The original R&R!" - I know what R&R is, but haven't figured out what he meant by the sentence.)

One of my favourite Vietnam era images is in that book, a Marine sitting in a M113's hatch, sleeves cut off - and holding a pink, little girl's parasol to keep off the sun.

He's now the faculty head of photojournalism at Griffith University, the Queensland College of Art.
06-07-2010, 10:53 PM   #283
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Bob, did you meet the Aussie camerman Neil Davis in Nam?




Dan.

Last edited by dosdan; 06-14-2010 at 08:29 PM.
06-08-2010, 06:22 AM   #284
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I don't remember Neil Davis. There were soooooo many photographers over there. As a military photographer, we mostly tended to stay to ourselves. The civilians did much the same although there were some exceptions.
Henri Huett was the very notable exception. He was not only approachable, he was one of the friendliest guys I've ever met! Not presumptuous in the least.
06-14-2010, 07:59 PM   #285
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Sounds as if you put your equipment through torture no camera manufacturer would even consider. I'm probably not the only one curious about just how you cleaned your equipment, protected it, kept it dry, dried it when it got wet, etc. I echo others' comments about your service. Thank you!
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