Commentary Search

I do more than point and shoot

  • Published
  • 6th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

It has been about a year since I found myself fresh out of tech school and stationed at MacDill Air Force Base, Florida as a public affairs photojournalist. I remember when I first got here, eager and excited.

That’s when I started going to various units trying to hone my skills of creative thinking and expression through photography.

I was often asked, “What do you do?”

Being a new Airman and not fully understanding my career field, I responded with “I just take photos and write stories.”

At the time, I saw going out and finding a story as a task that needed to be completed.

That all changed when the Air Force Public Affairs selected one of my photos for the website. It was the first time my work had made it the Air Force wide audience level.

It all began when a few co-workers and I covered a civilian police and military working dog water training. Throughout the day, I tried different angles and lenses in an effort to get the shots I needed. I tried various techniques from getting in the water and submersing my protected camera to squatting in uncomfortable positions to get my shot.  

By the end of the day, although satisfied with my photos and ready to go home, we chose to get a few more shots. In our field, we seek “that” shot, the shot that depicts the scene perfectly yet in a unique way. In that moment, although happy with my photos, I saw that moment as an opportunity to get “the shot.”

The handler and his dog started at one end of a pool and swam to the other end to get the dog comfortable with water.

As the dog and handler paddled, I continued to photograph. That is when it happened. I caught something I had never captured before, “a moment.” As the dog splashed its handler, the handler grinned ear to ear; the bond between the two was evident. That bond they share is essential, especially in the military; the bond allows them to trust each other to get the mission completed.

It hit me that day; I am more than a camera holder. My photo isn’t just a photo; it captures a moment, an emotion.

From historical documentation to telling an Airman’s personal story, photos and articles impact those who read them. The photos we take go online, in newspapers and in criminal investigations but are also used to brief leadership to include presidential and congress staff.

Now, I understand that as a photojournalist, we are here to capture the moments and stories of the men and women who serve our country. We are here to share the Air Force mission and show the world what we do through multiple outlets. Public affairs also shares community relations and media relations.

There are Airmen throughout the world who have a story waiting to be told, from the Airmen saving millions of dollars by fabricating aircraft parts in their shops to the security forces patrolmen who secure our bases to those mobility Airmen who deliver combat power anywhere in the world, when it’s needed.

Like any career field, as I progress through my job, I learn more and more about being a photojournalist. Although I have only tackled one side of a broad career field, I continue to learn and perform new tasks beyond photojournalism. The next step in my public affairs journey will be stepping into roles within our media relations and community relations sections.

My job isn’t “just” taking photos and writing stories, just like security forces members aren’t “just” guards. I have come to learn, like other Airmen, I’m not “just” doing my job. Every Airmen plays a vital role in accomplishing the Air Force mission.