Behind the Scenes: A Family to Call Her Own

editor’s note: some of this is very much directed at Air Force photojournalists, but most of this should apply to most people.

It started as a personal project, a favor to an old friend and a chance to put my newfound photojournalism skills to good use. The end goal and end product changed several times from first inception, but I’m very happy with how the final product came out.

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Airman celebrates being “total person”

Senior Airman Cody Mitchell

This is Senior Airman Cody Mitchell. During Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month proclaimed by President Barack Obama, Mitchell celebrates the normalcy he enjoys being openly gay, thanks to the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell. (Photo by Samuel Morse)

Throughout an Airman’s career, the “total person concept” is held as the pinnacle of what an Airman can be, not just for professional development, but also for personal resiliency. For gay, lesbian and bisexual Airmen, the possibility of being a total person was only recently made possible. Continue reading

Behind the Scenes: Operation Christmas Drop

Operation Christmas Drop 2012 from Samuel Morse on Vimeo / YouTube.

Ever since the Operation Christmas Drop video went live, I have received a lot of questions about how I put the video together and how I managed to get the feel and emotion that permeates the video. Truth is, there were a lot of factors that played into it, a bit of help from a few key people. The factors could be grouped into the following categories (not necessarily in order of importance): the steadicam, in-flight documentation techniques, the interviews, the music and sound design, the scope and perspective of the video, and the editing.

1st Place, Video Documentary — Pacific Air Forces Media Contest
2nd Place, Multimedia — NPPA Monthly Multimedia Contest
3rd Place, Video Documentary – Air Force Media Contest
3rd Place, Multimedia Feature — Military Photographer of the Year Competition

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Pride in Uniform

Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade 2012

A Japanese volunteer holds up rainbow flags for sale during the first annual Tokyo Rainbow Pride Parade in Yoyogi Park, Tokyo, April 29, 2012.

Perhaps the phrase “have pride in your uniform” evokes flashbacks of basic training or a particularly exacting first sergeant, but in the spirit of National Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month, I think we can look at this phrase in new light.

I have to say, I’m proud of my nation, my President, my Air Force and my colleagues, for giving us the current state of LGBT rights in the United States. As a bisexual service member, being able to put on my uniform and live the core values of integrity, service and excellence to their truest meaning has instilled immeasurable pride in wearing that uniform. The past year has seen some significant changes to LGBT rights as a whole, but no change has been more pivotal to those of us serving in the armed forces than the repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” last September.

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OutServe joins in Tokyo Pride

More than 4,500 lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people from around the world descended on Harajuku, Tokyo, for the inaugural Tokyo Rainbow Pride, themed “Power of Rainbow,” on April 29. Not just a first for Tokyo, this marked the first pride event where members of OutServe – Japan could participate openly following the repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell.  Continue reading

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…

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The road to repeal

In the past week and a half, coming out and talking to people openly has brought something into sharp focus: most people really don’t understand the significance of the Don’t Ask Don’t Tell repeal on Sept. 20. While it’s true nothing really changed about who we are and what we do in the military, it still makes a world of difference for those of us who had to hide under the old policy.

So, here’s the story of my life – the hidden story that might explain exuberance of those liberated by the DADT repeal, myself included.

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Embracing a new future

DADT repealed

Chains are cut from the mouth of a gay Airman as the policy commonly known as "Don't Ask Don't Tell" is repealed. DADT prohibited gay, bisexual and lesbian servicemembers from serving openly. Photo by Samuel Morse

To quote singer-songwriter Bob Dylan, “The times, they are a-changing.” We are in a position where the military paradigm is in a constant state of flux and the recent repeal of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell is no different. Independent voices have been raised that this uncertain new element in our military will ultimately hurt our readiness and cohesion.

To that argument, I must disagree whole-heartedly. It is, and has always been, the greatest strength of the American military to adapt to change and capitalize on new capabilities provided by those changes. Continue reading