Capturing the Resilience of Real-Life Heroes: Cade Martin's Project with The Wounded Warrior Project

Cade Martin is known for his imagination, creating scenes that are only real in our dreams or favorite books. However, the power of his photography lies not only in the creation of fantastical vignettes but also in bringing a subject to life in a way that evokes empathy in the viewer. 

His project with the Wounded Warrior Project reminded him of the profound impact his work can have. Through his lens, he was able to capture the incredible resilience and strength of the warriors who have given so much to their country. But more than that, he was able to connect with them on a personal level, learning about their struggles and triumphs. We sat down with Cade to hear what he learned from this project, a memorable moment that stood out, and how he used his imagination to capture the essence of these real-life heroes.

Your vision is one through imagination, grounded in reality. How did you use your imagination to bring this very real subject matter to life? 

As a photographer, I work with a wide range of subject matter, in some cases, I try to find a personal connection, and in others, I use my imagination – to imagine and connect with what or whom I am photographing helps me create images that are grounded in truth. That’s true even for the most surreal or whimsical images. The Wounded Warrior Campaign, was a more somber and inward exercise. Without personal experience with the trauma and effects of service, it was important for me to engage with that reality, to listen to that perspective, and imagine how this campaign can impact these families.

How did collaboration play a part in this project?

I firmly believe that collaboration is a core part of any project, because our work is never done in a vacuum. But the Wounded Warrior Campaign was truly crucial to both the spirit of the project and the final outcome. Because of the need to strike a vital balance between urgency and care in the messaging, it was important to know that the motion and still teams were consistent in delivering that missive.

How do you handle a shared set with video teams? 

Working and collaborating with video teams is increasingly common and finding ways to complement and enhance messaging with shared resources and goals is something we’ve got to be prepared for to get the best results for our clients. It always works best with an “ours” mentality – the resources, time, talent etc. aren’t “mine” or “theirs” but ours, and we are investing in shared

How do you ensure cohesion between the stills and motion?

That really comes down to relationships and communication. Establishing trust that each of us wants the best results for each other because ultimately, that serves the client’s interest, and ensures that the best work is getting done from top to bottom for a cohesive campaign. Staying grounded in a sense of teamwork and not competition helps maintain focus where it belongs, on the success of the campaign.

What was a memorable moment from this project? 

The image making aside - the conversation and interaction with the Warriors was the real treat.

What did you learn from this project?

I was reminded of the fact that I love what I do - that I'm very fortunate to be able to travel, have adventures and meet people from all walks of life. I was also reminded that my career in photography allows me to see things I wouldn't necessarily see - and more than that to understand and learn about amazing people, places and things. The camera has been my passport and it was an honor to be able to spend a little time with these Warriors, and to learn more about the truly life-saving work of the Wounded Warriors Project.