You know you’re a military photographer when…

I recently read a “You know you’re a photojournalist when” list, and thought I’d add my own list of military-specific situations. You can read the original at this link.

Disclaimer: the following is meant for entertainment purposes only. Names and circumstances have been changed to protect the criminally dim-witted. Any resemblance to actual events is unintentional, although those people should really know better.

You know you’re a military photographer when…

  • you bend over backwards to shoot a retirement due to the desperate pleas of the organizer, only to show up and have to fight off four other random people with cameras just as good or better than yours who are also trying to shoot it
  • you learn to dread the sound of a baby crying in the hallway, knowing that it’s heading in your direction for a passport photo
  • you go to bed early on Saturdays when you’re on alert duty, knowing that you’ll be called in for some sort of fight or domestic dispute early Sunday morning
  • you start referring to Sundays as “beat your spouse day”
  • you’ve lost all respect for rank because you have too many blackmail photos of all the high ranking officers on the base
  • you have no pity for the fools in the disciplinary reports because they forced you to be woken up at 2 a.m. on a weekday to photograph the penis they drew on the door of a dorm room, and the subsequent black eye they received for it
  • one of the standard conversations when meeting a new photographer in the shop is discussing what the weirdest or coolest alert call they’ve been on was
  • you’ve memorized the exact settings you need on your camera for each ballroom and conference room on base
  • you can’t count the number of times in the past 24 hours you’ve heard the phrase “hey, do you have that photo from the other day” with no other identifying information given to differentiate “that photo” from the other two thousand you’ve taken in the past two weeks
  • you’ve been tempted on more than one occasion to answer the phone question “I need to take a photo” (in reference to getting a studio photo taken of them) with the answer “sure, when would like to pick up the camera?”
  • you wonder if people understand the concept of fraud, waste and abuse when they ask for 50 copies of an aircraft photo to put in people’s going away presents
  • you’ve been asked to take a photo of a high ranking officer and his wife in matching plaid golfing clothes that look like they came from Ronald McDonald’s reject pile
  • you’ve stopped worrying about your camera because it’s tougher than you are
  • you wonder how the previous caretaker of your government camera managed to hit the magnesium alloy so hard that the zoom ring now sticks (see above for durability)
  • the only thing that makes you groan more than “grip ‘n’ grin” is the term “officers’ spouses club”
  • you know AFI 36-2903 better than your first sergeant
  • you’re stricter about people using proper safety gear than the wing safety office…. when you’re on a shoot at least
  • you’re excited about the high ISO of your new camera not because you shoot cool action in low light, but because you need it to shoot all those commander’s calls that people insist on holding in the base theater
  • you don’t just find lens caps in your cargo pocket, but find whole lenses
  • when your family asks what you’ve been up to, your knee-jerk reaction is to say “have you checked the base website?”

Leave comments if you can think of more for this list!

8 thoughts on “You know you’re a military photographer when…

  1. … You no longer get angry when people make small talk with you by saying that same old joke: “Hey, you left your lens cap on … Ha-ha!”

  2. You learn to laugh when you hear the same joke, “Wait, here’s my good side,” from random people walking by you at a shoot.

  3. when your family asks what you’ve been up to, your knee-jerk reaction is to say “have you checked the base facebook page lately?”

  4. Sam, Absolutly epic! This just made my night ! These all ring true in my book . But you forgot the most important one !!! You know your a photojournalist when you are at a retirement and there’s always the one person who asks “did you get a picture of the cake”

    • Wow, I can’t believe I forgot the infamous cake shot. What’s truly amazing is that they’ll ask for one even if there’s nothing special about the cake. I think I’ve even been asked once to take a photo despite the cake not even having writing or anything to distinguish it from an over-the-counter generic cake. Usually that’s protocol…

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