Additional photos by students

Life has a funny way of bringing complete strangers together. Yet regardless of whether you meet at a car show, a library, or a family outing, what really connects us is the sharing of similar interests and values. It’s a phenomenon that unites people from all walks of life, regardless of socioeconomic factors, and a for a group of seemingly random individuals in Las Vegas, it was their love for photography and human compassion that bound them as one.

Spearheaded by Alejandro Salazar (outreach coordinator for the Wounded Warrior Project/part-time photographer) and LR contributor Hector Leyva, the duo set out on a mission to teach a team of Wounded Warrior vets the finer points of photography. From aperture to shutter speed, lighting to the correct angles, the warriors were given a hands-on tutorial and live sessions to hone their newly acquired skills.

On day one, the warriors sat through Hector Leyva’s tutorial about aperture, shutter speed, lighting, and depth of field. Once the session was complete, they were then given an opportunity to put those lessons to work. On day two, the warriors were then given the chance to do a shoot with Lil Greg’s beautiful 1958 Chevy Impala (One1Luv Car Club), along with the added bonus of local pinup model Madeline who was kind enough to come out and strike a few poses. As the group worked together it was great to see all the questions being asked, and to be honest watching these veterans dive into the craft was priceless. With great intensity and laser-like focus, each of these vets were on a mission to strike the correct angles and land the proverbial “money shot.” Yet with as much as they’ve done to serve and protect our country, this was the least we could do. It was a humbling opportunity to spend time with them and at the end of the session, each of the warriors were asked to choose the image they were most proud of, and in turn given 8×10 prints of them to take home.

In all, it was a celebration of cultures built on a common thread. It was a time to give back, a humbling experience, and an opportunity for a few Wounded Warriors to take home a new skillset, which could quite possibly turn their passion into a profession—or at the very least create some very excellent photographers.