The 2016 Invictus Games are just wrapping up in Orlando, FL, and after Queen Elizabeth and Prince Harry challenged President Obama and First Lady Michelle Obama to “bring it,” the media coverage on the event has been blowing up. Photographs of many of the athletes this year were provided by Boston photographer Craig Orsini, whose experience with Invictus begins with his commitment to advocating for veterans.
The Invictus Games are a series of Olympic events for wounded veterans, started in 2014 in London by Prince Harry. The games are sponsored by the Fisher House Foundation, another organization dedicated to improving life for wounded veterans and their families. FHF provides housing for families of veterans who are in Veterans’ and Department of Defense hospitals in the US. Craig connected with the FHF years ago as a volunteer, and since then he’s enjoyed photographing and directing videos for them for various projects. When they asked him to shoot a library of images for this and subsequent years’ Invictus Games, he was all in.
Planning for this shoot was pretty intense. Craig got a call on a Friday that they wanted the shoot to happen the following Friday in Washington D.C. He immediately called Wonderful Machine’s executive producer, Jess Dudley, to take care of production for the shoot. Jess handled of all the logistics for Craig and the crew, while FHF worked like fire getting the athletes in from all over the country and making sure accommodations were in place for any and all of their equipment and needs.
Getting twelve people with wheelchairs, bikes, and all sorts of sports equipment in from around the country was a logistical masterpiece.
Craig says these photos diverged a bit from his usual photography, which tends to be more context-heavy and lifestyle-focused. But these images did fit his style in that his goal was to make a connection between himself and his subjects. He says his true specialty is capturing real people with something real inside that he can connect to with his camera.
I am always after the same style if I am shooting or directing—it’s connecting with the people I am working with.
After all the timing and organization, Craig was excited to meet the athletes and get rolling with the shoot. “Shooting is always the fun and exciting part,” he says. And in this case, it was all the better to be photographing for a cause and group of people he felt so strongly about.
Meeting all of the soldiers was a very moving and great experience. Every shoot for the Fisher House Foundation is rewarding on so many levels.
Craig—along with Barack and Michelle Obama—is cheering loudly for the athletes at Invictus, and he looks forward to working with the Fisher House Foundation more in the future.
I think working with the Fisher House Foundation is a life-long project and will never be finished. My goal is to make more people aware that the veterans and families need our support for life.
To view more of Craig’s work, visit orsinistudio.com.