About CourseJoin our own Mia McCormick as she sits down with Stacy and delves into topics that range from how Stacy got started in photography after joining the Air Force at age 17 to the obstacles she had to overcome as a female airman in combat situations, and from what it takes to make tough choices in chaotic situations to the process of transitioning to civilian life after being combat disabled and retired from military service. This interview kicks off our Trailblazer interview series on powerful women in photography; women who have the courage to tell stories about complicated issues, often under extreme and dangerous situations, and who are among the first female professionals to excel in their chosen discipline of photography.
Stacy L. Pearsall got her start as an Air Force photographer at the age of 17. During her time in the service, she traveled to over 41 countries, and attended the Military Photojournalism Program at S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University. During three combat tours, she earned the Bronze Star Medal and Air Force Commendation with Valor for heroic actions under fire. Combat disabled and retired from military service, Pearsall continues to work worldwide as a freelance photographer, and is an author, educator, military consultant, public speaker and founder of the Veterans Portrait Project. Pearsall was one of only two women to win NPPA's Military Photographer of the Year competition, and the only woman to have earned it twice. She's been awarded the Trojan Labor American Hero Award, honored with the Daughters of the American Revolution Margaret Cochran Corbin Award, lauded by the White House as a Champion of Change, and holds an honorary doctoral degree from The Citadel. Following military service, Pearsall purchased the Charleston Center for Photography (CCP). She grew the once grass roots photo club into a reputable brand for photography education, studio rentals, fine art print labs and gallery under one roof. As CCP grew, so did her personal endeavors with the Veterans Portrait Project. In order to pursue her personal project full time, Pearsall sold CPP in the fall of 2012. The Veterans Portrait Project (VPP) began in 2008 while Pearsall rehabilitated from combat injuries sustained in Iraq. Spending hours in VA waiting rooms surrounded by veterans from every generation and branch of service, Pearsall was compelled to honor and thank them in the only way she knows how, photography. She's traveled to over 40 cities with the VPP and has documented over 3,000 veterans thus far. Several regionally based exhibitions are on display showcasing veterans from their respective hometowns. Pearsall continues to photograph and document veterans' stories at veteran conventions, community events and private sessions nationwide. Between her photography, teaching and speaking engagements, Pearsall completed her first photography book, Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera, which received worldwide praise as "A book of the highest levels in the annals of combat journalism." And her second book, A Photojournalist's Field Guide: In the Trenches with Combat Photographer Stacy Pearsall, is "A must have for every aspiring photographer out there, and even pros can pick up a few new tricks to help them become better photographers."