Specifically, he’s looking for leather World War II bomber jackets with artwork on both sides, and a good story behind them.
The jackets “were highly sought after even after the war,” Slemp said. “Why they’ve endured for such a long time — It’s Americana at its best.”
The jackets’ decorative embellishments were sometimes painted by soldiers with artistic talent, sometimes by other artists, according to Slemp.
Some of the markings were symbols representing enemy aircraft shot down or missions flown, according to Slemp. Other jackets’ decorations include scantily-clad women, which sometimes allowed those jackets to be well-preserved, hidden away in closets after the serviceman returned home, he added.
Slemp finds the bomber jackets to photograph by working with veterans or their family members, as well as museums. When he can, he makes portraits of the veterans as well.
High on his most-wanted list: A Tuskegee Airmen jacket and any Women Airforce Service Pilot jacket.
His ultimate goal is to publish a coffee table book of the images, and along the way he hopes to show the photographs in a traveling exhibition.