|© Louie Palu; U.S. Marine Gysgt. Carlos “OJ” Orjuela, age 31, Garmsir District, Helmand Province, Afghanistan, from Project: Home Front (2008)|
Last week, photographer Louie Palu's presented his story behind his image above, taken in Afghanistan in 2008 and featured in our WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY exhibit. Today we bring you an interview with the man in the photo, United States Marine Gunnery Sergeant Carlos “OJ” Orjuela.
ASP: What kind of emotions did you experience the first time you saw Louie's photograph?
Carlos Orjuela: I was ecstatic. I knew that Louie was a professional photographer, but I was floored that the picture came out so well with that much detail given the conditions in the field we were operating in.
ASP: How do you feel when you look at this photo now?
Carlos Orjuela: Famous and honored that I could be part of this work.
ASP: How did the photo come about?
Carlos Orjuela: We had just traveled several hours from our combat outpost to a forward operating base on a road known for being mined. Louie spent many hours getting to know everyone in our unit over several weeks. Louie asked if I would mind if he took some pictures after the patrol, that it was important for history. It was right at the end of our mission in the area we had operated in for several months, it was 120 degrees and a sandstorm was about to hit the base. Louie lived amongst us 24/7 and it was very natural to have him around and taking photographs.
ASP: What kinds of things were you thinking about during the photoshoot?
Carlos Orjuela: That I should probably button up my chin strap.
ASP: What kind of reactions have you received from other people (family, friends, strangers) who have seen or recognized you in the photo?
Carlos Orjuela: I am very well known for playing pranks on people therefore no one I knew believed it was really me when they saw the photo. I would have to do an online search with my name to show my friends and colleagues Louie's pictures to prove it was really me. As of late, I have had many friends and co-workers calling me telling me that they saw my picture all over the Los Angeles area while the show is on at the Annenberg Space.
WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath will show at the Annenberg Space for Photography through June 2, 2013. Learn more about Louie Palu on his official website.