National Guard Soldier Brings Back Artistic Photos from His Time in Afghanistan


Sean Huolihan isn’t the first soldier to spend some of his time overseas looking through a viewfinder instead of a rifle scope, but there’s a certain quality to the photos taken by the Iraq/Afghanistan Veteran that you don’t frequently find in images of war.

For 7+ years, Communications Section Chief Huolihan was a member of the Wisconsin National Guard, but his service took on a different dimension when he picked up a Nikon D90 and began taking pictures after a tour in Iraq. By the time he was deployed to Afghanistan a few years later, he had advanced to the point where he felt comfortable volunteering as the historian for the unit B 1-121FA HIMARS.

The images he came back with are more ‘artistic’ than you typically see. Pictures of rockets and machines of war are juxtaposed against silhouettes and star trails, making for a very interesting collection of photographs indeed.

Here are just a few of our favorites:










Speaking with SLR Lounge, Huolihan explains that the biggest challenges of shooting in a war zone were, one, keeping his gear clean, and two, not being able to shoot in certain locations. He also revealed that his favorite subject is rockets, saying, tongue-in-cheek, that, “There is nothing more exhilarating than shooting rockets (and photographing them too).”

Now that he’s back home in Wisconsin, he is far away from the life-threatening situations that his service in the military put him in on a daily basis. But his ability to navigate treacherous situations will undoubtedly still come in handy: he’s decided to pursue a career as a full-time photographer.

To see more of his work — both military and otherwise — head over to his website or give his Instagram and Flickr pages a follow. And if you have any advice for him as he begins navigating the world of professional photography, feel free to leave it in the comments down below.

(via SLR Lounge)

Image credits: Photographs by Sean Huolihan and used with permission

  • Ridgecity

    I think we should be getting advice from him!

  • Tyler James Branston

    Pretty nice, except for the few overprocessed HDR type images.

  • Michael Andrew Broughton

    what, no hdr shots of innocent afghan children blown apart by those photogenic rockets?

  • OtterMatt

    Wow, these are amazing images. Kinda sorta makes you think, too, which is a not-often-seen bonus.

  • Sean Huolihan

    I would like to thank Zak Arias after reading his Q&A blog for the inspiration and motivation. I can’t thank him enough for the encouragement and what his blog meant to me.

  • Matty Davies

    Amazing shots! They’re great Sean.

  • Carlee Keppler-Carson

    There is a quality, a feeling and depth to them that non of us, even those who are in the documentary field can imitate.

  • kieraeastedi321

    stepmom just got an almost new silver Toyota Sequoia by working part-time at
    home. navigate to this website F­i­s­c­a­l­p­o­s­t­.­C­O­M­

  • Horst Kettner

    Leni Riefenstahl also did great propaganda for the Third Reich…

  • Anne Wallace

    You are to be commended for your photography and your service.

    Not sure what venue you shall choose to pursue for your professional career. I think CreativeLive is a great resource. There are many short courses given by pros on the business end as well as technical advice. And the best part is while the workshops are streamed live you can watch at no cost.

    I look at David DuChemin who has built up his professional career through pursueinh multiple venues. He writes books, twitters, has inexpensive e-books to download for $5, blogs actively, and holds workshops. His business manager also has a book to help you with the business side.

    Tamara Lackey, a skilled portrait photographer, is another photographer who could provide inspiration if you should choose to go the portrait route.

    A lot depends on the area you choose to focus on. But you have the talent and courage and determination to succeed. Ignoring the critics, the naysayers, those that do not provide constructive feedback and doing something each day to pursue your dream is best advice I can offer.

    Best wishes!
    Anne Wallace

  • SeoulFoodNinja

    Nah. He’s waiting for you to enlist so you can take those photos. I’ll wait too so I can see your shots.

  • hdc77494

    Compared to virtually every previous war in history, civilian deaths today are miraculously low. War means death, theirs or ours.

  • Eric F Woods

    as Michelle replied
    I am stunned that people can profit $4285 in one month on the internet . you
    could look here Works77­.­C­O­­M

  • CTJPMarie

    Austere, stark, eerie, telling…Thank you for your service and for reminding us of the conditions you all endure. Glad you made it out! Peace & :)