Wednesday, August 8, 2012

An ex-Marine reflects: Two stories in one

As part of the national online project American Homecomings, photographer Kate Penn and columnist Mike Argento are following West York's Darnell Rias for a year as he builds his post-war life.

Recently, Kate and Mike went with Rias to Camp Lejeune, N.C., where Rias welcomed home his good friend, Lance Cpl. Harley Philhower.

Because I'm working with Mike on the text version of the story, Kate's video is always fresh to me. I'm always fascinated at how a writer and a visual artist work together-but-separately -- they're on assignment together, so there's a teamwork aspect to it, but neither wants to tell exactly the same story as the other.

In this case, Mike's story focuses on the (mild) suspense of Rias meeting Philhower, exchanging scenes of anticipation with background that fills out the military friendship part of their story. Kate's video has the reunion, too, but it left me thinking about how wistful Rias is when he's talking about his time in the Marines (even when he talks about feeling like he had to cut his hair to go back to Camp Lejeune).

They are complementary pieces, each of which tells an important part of Rias' story.