The sun shines brightly overhead, glistening off the choppy waves splashing upon the shore. A heron wades through the water, looking for its next catch. This scene is one that many people visiting and living on Anna Maria Island take for granted every single day, but not photographer Christian Ulanch. Christian wakes up every day with a renewed sense of purpose in his life. He grabs his trusty camera, calls for his companion dog Ivan, and heads out looking for his next great shot. His goal is to find that moment of beauty that’s sitting right in front of everyone, but they’re too caught up with other things to see it. Christian wants to photograph that moment and share it with the world. He hopes his photograph will give others a second chance to witness the world’s beauty as he sees it through his camera lens. Second shots mean everything to Christian, thanks to his first hand experience at almost not getting his.
Christian Ulanch is a disabled Marine veteran. After serving in Saudi Arabia during Operation Desert Storm, Christian returned home and collapsed from a spontaneous brain hemorrhage. He was in a coma for almost six months and upon waking up, lost some function in the right side of his body. He was in a low point of his life and did not want to live anymore, however with help from his friends and family, he was able to survive, but just surviving wasn’t enough for him.
Christian was grateful to be alive but he felt he was still missing something that the brain hemorrhage took away from him: a purpose. Then one fateful day, Christian picked up a camera and his whole world changed forever. When he looked through the viewfinder and started snapping photographs, he felt an instant connection to the beautiful world in front of him. When he shared these photographs with friends and family and saw their joyful reactions, he knew that he had truly been given a second shot.
Christian has spent his time photographing his beautiful home of Anna Maria Island, but now Christian wants to photograph even more beauty of the United States; the country he loves and served honorably. He wants to share his second shot photographs with people so that they too can take a moment and appreciate everything this country has to offer. Christian has started planning photography missions all over the United States, starting with his first through Utah and the Mighty Five National Parks. He has started a GoFundMe donation page in hopes of raising the funds that will allow him to continue his second shot at life.
The Sarasota Post sat down with Christian Ulanch to find out some more information.
SP: Christian, what inspired you to start your Second Shot Mission?
Christian: After many years of rehabilitation and making the necessary alterations to my own life so that I could be engaged in society beyond my limitations I now want to serve my military brothers and sisters that sacrificed their life and returned injured or permanently disabled to peruse their Second Shot dreams. My goal is to travel this beautiful country we served and photograph its majestic presence.
SP: How will you share your mission?
Christian: I am hoping to create a documentary about my trips, starting with the first one. I want people to see my photos online and at my booth, but I also want people to see me getting the perfect shots. The documentary of my travels is my priority as it will be the best and fastest means of displaying and sharing this journey.
SP: Why is that so important to you?
Christian: So that other military members that have come home injured and have artistic aspirations can see that we can do it.
SP: Is that why you’re working to create The Christian Ulanch Foundation?
Christian: My goal is to have a nonprofit foundation that is completely dedicated to sponsoring members of the military who have creative arts aspirations. Painters, photographers, filmmakers and the like, as I believe those are industries that have little presence and or financial support for disabled veterans.
SP: Where is your first trip and when?
Christian: My first trip will be through Utah’s Mighty Five National Parks this September with my brother by my side. My GoFundMe is to help raise the money for my team to assist me with filming the documentary of the journey, my daily activities, and showcase my mission of giving people a second shot like I had.
For more information on Christian Ulanch and his mission, please visit his website .
Photos courtesy of Christian Ulanch website.