The following is the second of a three-part blog post focusing on Military Photographers.
Some military photographers consider capturing the story of their fellow soldiers the greatest honor of their life. For others, the brutality of war remains frozen in their mind just as the images they produced.
Four years after serving in World War II as a radio operator, Sheldon “Don” Kader found himself once again serving his country, but within a completely different capacity. This time his role was with the 2nd Combat Camera Unit, 2nd Photographic Squadron during the Korean War. Having just finished schooling for journalism and advertising, Kader was pleased by the shift of his requirements and eager to showcase his creative side. Although enthusiastic, Kader was still hesitant at first as he realized he had limited experience with camera technology. He quickly remembered his time spent with a crewman during WWII and the Leica that hung around his neck. Kader said he thought surely if Lieutenant Sinitizen could do it, so could he. The Leica technology introduced a 35mm, which Kader would learn was the preferred viewing for documentaries and public releases within the Air Force.
Working predominately with 16mm Howell 70DL with a three turret lens and a 35mm Arriflex, Kader and his crew worked to document the mood and expression of the war for newsreels and various Air Force units. Shooting both film and stills, Kader was frequently shooting the likes of bomb droppings, air-to-air operations with state-of-the-art aircraft, and shots of the crew at their stations. When asked if Kader felt his position as a cameraman was a safe one, he simply chuckled and said:
A cameraman was always in danger. It’s very difficult to take a picture with your fingers in your ears!
Kader’s experience with combat cameras led him to a prosperous career in advertising, and he ran public relations for companies like SONY. Although he acknowledges the amazing advances that photography has taken since his time in the service, Kader states in his memoir that he still prefers the classic 35mm single lens camera and developing the film over the constantly updating digital.
Are you in favor of the darkroom like Kader or do you prefer the ease of a digital camera? Share your military photo experience in the comments below.
Check back next week for the third and final post regarding Military Photographers. In the meantime, you can read back through the original blog post HERE.
So true, my Uncle was a Signal Corps photographer in WW I. I have his Swager Stick, photographs and military paperwork. One day I hope to find the photograph of him in uniform with President Wilson. My aunt wanted me to have it with the Swagerstick but it could never be found.
Dr. McJonathan, Thank you for sharing about your uncle’s treasures you keep from his time with the Signal Corps. Perhaps you might find the photograph of him with President Wilson at one of the additional resources we have on the loc.gov/vets page under “Participate in the Project”. The links include internet resources, military history centers and more. We wish you the best of luck with the hunt and hope you keep us updated should you find it!