U.S. Army Staff Sergeant Russell Lee Klika is a self-taught, award-winning photojournalist. At age 17 he joined the Marines to become a machine gunner. Soon after purchasing a 35mm film camera on a whim, the strength of his photos earned him a spot in the military's selection of its 99 up-and-coming photographers. He became the first military photographer to attend the Eddie Adams Experience in Photojournalism workshop. In 1990, Klika transitioned from the Marines to the civilian world and was assigned to several large newspapers on both US coasts. As a civilian photojournalist, he covered a myriad of events including daring military aerial maneuvers and the emotionally charged LA riots. In 2003, Klika returned to the military and volunteered for two tours in Iraq, both with the Tennessee Army National Guard where he served as NCOIC of Public Affairs, 278th Armored Cavalry Regiment and later as a Team Leader, for the 133rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment. He credits his close personal relationships with his comrades as what allowed him to return with a wealth of powerful and compelling images from the frontlines.
Klika is the recipient of over 50 First Place honors and Best of Show Designations; his work has been featured in over 35 magazines, newspapers and web-based galleries worldwide, to include TIME, Newsweek, NY and LA Times, World Literature Today, American Photo, French Photo and Soldier of Fortune. He is also a frequent contributor to the Guard Experience magazine. Upon his return from Iraq, Klika was assigned as a photography trainer to First Army Operation Warrior Trainer for Public Affairs where he mentored other military photographers. He was recently assigned as a photographer to the National Guard Bureau, Tennessee National Guard in Smyrna, TN. He hails from Appleton, WI, and has three sons, one of which is currently serving in the Army in one of the two combat theaters.