We had the good fortune of connecting with Mickey Strand and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Mickey, can you walk us through the thought-process of starting your business?
I had just retired after 24 years from the US Navy as a Chief Photographers Mate and was ready to get back to my roots of shooting and being a photographer. I knew I did not want to take the middle management positions that were being offered as a Naval leader and needed to get back into being creative and working with people.
Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
Currently, I’m photographing portraits of Americas Greatest Generation, the Hero’s of World War II, collecting their stories and memories for future generations. I set up a portrait studio on location and interview the veteran(s), collecting their stories about life during their service in the war, and after they returned. I have also collected other veterans but I have been concentrating my efforts on the greatest generation before they are gone. I have been fortunate to be invited to document over 90 veterans at 3 of the California Veterans Home and various other locations. Appointments are normally 30-60 minutes to give us time to get to know each other and chat about their service as well as shoot some portraits. Many Veterans bring a photo from their service years or an item they want to tell a story about. Some veterans choose to dress formally, while others go more casual, and some have even worn their service uniforms. I have visited many Veterans in their homes and some share massive collections of memorabilia and we created a stunning memories background for their photo. The participant receives a print at no expense as a thank you for their service and for spending this time with me. The project photos have been printed in a larger format for display all over the US. I have a permanent display at Cal-Vet homes in Los Angeles, Ventura, and Chula Vista California, and have had Veterans day displays at multiple locations. The entire project, 96 images at the time was displayed at the Palm Beach Photographic Centre Museum from Nov 11, 2019 – March 1, 2020. A Google 360 is available for you to virtually walk through the exhibit.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
If I was entertaining a friend to the city for the first time there are so many “postcard” locations that we would have to hit and many of them include food. Cabrillo Monument and the Rosecrans Military Cemetery make up a morning visit along with many of the beaches, with Scripts and the tide pools a must. Coronado beach and a walk past and inside the Hotel Del Coronado, are usually included in that week someplace. But most of all the ton of amazing Taco shops like Chula vistas Tacos El Gordo and the original Rubios can’t be missed. If they are foodies then La Mesa Farmers Table and Bo on Beau need to be visited. Downtown would include a visit to the Field for fish n chips of Shepherd’s pie and a cigar across the street at the Cuban Cigar factory. One day would have to include a trip including Mount Soledad National Veterans Memorial, the beaches of La Jolla, the cove and the children’s pool.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Without the understanding love and dedication of my wife, Mary, and my kids, The rocky road of maintaining a Photography life might not have happened.