Taking its name from the shocking statistic that 22 American war veterans commit suicide every day, Mission 22 gave the issue a name, but not a face. The War at Home campaign shows the empty living rooms, bedrooms, garages, and hallways where soldiers are dying from suicide. “I wasn’t always photographing the exact place where the suicide happened,” explains conflict photographer David Guttenfelder. “I walked through their homes and their neighborhoods, which really had become their personal battle spaces. These otherwise-mundane places took on a darker, more ominous feel.”
After returning from 20 years in war zones himself, Guttenfelder’s focus had not been on advertising or architectural photography. “A traditional documentary photographer would approach this very differently. Mission 22 built a bold campaign around a clear point of view. With print, web, TV, social, billboards, they started a broad conversation. I learned a lot. These are approaches I might also bring to my editorial work in the future.” During the three-week production, he had to face his own feelings about coming home from war. “My career covering war helped me connect with the grieving families. I felt I had a strong bond with them. I’d even been on the same front lines with some of these veterans who’d taken their own lives.”
The campaign took home a Bronze at the Cannes Lion Awards for PR Campaigns. The team is now exploring how they can begin the next phase of the campaign.
Photographer: David Guttenfelder. davidguttenfelder.com
Article published in Capture Magazine. capturemag.com.au