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Capturing Freedom Through the Lens

The Journey of Marine-turned-Photographer Brian Wickander

On the Fourth of July, as we come together to celebrate the independence and freedom we enjoy as a nation, it is essential to remember the courageous men and women who have fought and served in the military to protect those very values. Among them is Brian Wickander, a Marine veteran who has found solace and purpose in the art of photography. 

Brian Wickander's journey began in Eastern Oregon, where he grew up immersed in the beauty of nature. Fascinated by his father's military background, Brian's interest in the military was sparked early on. After graduating high school in 2002, he embarked on a new path and enlisted in the Marines. The decision was not an easy one, but Brian felt compelled to serve his country and make a difference.

Brian's transformation began in October 2003 when he arrived at the Marine Corps recruit depot (MCRD) in San Diego for boot camp. Amidst the backdrop of raging fires in California that year, the intensity and challenges of training became a defining moment. Despite facing a setback due to a leg fracture, Brian's determination led him to choose the path of rehabilitation within a special platoon, allowing him to eventually graduate and proudly earn the title of Marine.

During his four years in the Marine Corps, Brian experienced two deployments to the Al Anbar province of Iraq. The harsh realities of a foreign land, the dangers of war, and the loss of comrades shaped his perspective forever. In the midst of the desert, Brian formed bonds of brotherhood with his fellow Marines, navigating the highs and lows of patrolling and witnessing the world outside the safety of his homeland. These experiences left an indelible mark on his soul.

Coming home from the military presented its own set of challenges for Brian. However, it was during this time of transition that he discovered the therapeutic power of photography. Behind the camera lens, he found solace, peace, and a way to make sense of the world around him. Exploring the quiet beauty of the mountains and nature, Brian's photography became a form of therapy, allowing him to express his emotions and reconnect with himself.

For Brian, photography goes beyond capturing beautiful images; it is a way to communicate his experiences, emotions, and perspectives. Through his lens, he finds parallels between the discipline and focus required in the military and the art of capturing the perfect shot. The subjects he chooses, such as the awe-inspiring landscapes and the majestic wild horses of Arizona, hold a deeper connection for him—a reminder of the freedom he fought to protect.

Independence Day holds special meaning for Brian Wickander. It is a celebration of a country that has given him opportunities and freedom. Despite the challenges and divisions that exist in today's society, Brian believes in the importance of honoring those who have sacrificed for the values and liberties we enjoy as Americans. He encourages us to reflect on the sacrifices made by brave men and women throughout history and to appreciate the abundance and opportunities available in the United States.

Brian Wickander's journey from Marine to photographer is a testament to the power of resilience, self-discovery, and the healing potential of art. His experiences in the military have shaped his perspective and given him a profound appreciation for the freedom we celebrate on the Fourth of July. 

"Do whatever you do intensely. The artist is the man who leaves the crowd and goes pioneering. With him there is an idea which is his life."
         ~Robert Henri

  • Brian Wickander
  • Tonto National Park at sunset
  • Grizzly bear in spring
  • American bison