Much like their civilian counterparts, Air Force photojournalists are tasked with chronicling the day-to-day activity of Air Force personnel and events for publication, both in news articles and for public relations purposes.
This is by no means a desk job; these airmen can expect to be stationed anywhere the Air Force has personnel, which includes combat situations. They're often the eyes of the Air Force, providing insights from the front lines.
The Air Force categorizes this job as Air Force Specialty Code (AFSC) 3V0X2.
Duties of an Air Force Photojournalist
These airmen take photos in combat and non-combat situations, often writing captions and narrative stories to accompany the photos in print. They select, retouch, color-correct and crop photos for layout in print publications.
As part of their work, they set up camera equipment such as tripods and lighting systems to best capture still images of aircraft and Air Force personnel. They work closely with Air Force journalists and public relations specialists.
In addition, these airmen are responsible for maintaining and operating cameras and other photography equipment and gear. Like all photographers, they’re skilled at processing film as well as using digital photography equipment. There's a separate Air Force job that deals with videography, which involves taking moving pictures rather than still photos, but the job duties may overlap in some instances.
Part of their duties includes photographing medical procedures, which they coordinate with medical staff. This requires specialized training, which airmen in this job will receive during technical school.
Qualifying as an Air Force Photojournalist
To be eligible for this job, you'll need a composite score of 44 on the general aptitude area of the Armed Forces Qualification Test (AFQT) of the Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB).
Airmen in this job need a high school diploma or its equivalent and should have some prior training or knowledge of photography, with a basic understanding of journalism and communications principles.
Normal color vision is required, and you must be a U.S. citizen. You also must be fluent in English and be free of any speech impediments. A state driver's license is required as well since you'll be operating military vehicles.
In addition, you'll need to qualify for a secret security clearance from the Department of Defense. The qualifying process includes an in-depth background check of character and finances, and a history of drug or alcohol abuse may be disqualifying.
Training as Air Force Photojournalist
Following seven weeks of basic training and airmen's week, candidates for this job spend 60 days in technical training at Fort Meade in Maryland. Here they'll learn the basics of taking photographs in combat situations and other scenarios, how to upload images and content to the Air Force websites, and to ensure their photos and other content meets Department of Defense and Air Force standards.
Civilian Jobs Similar to Air Force Photojournalist
These airmen are well-qualified for jobs with news organizations or communications firms that use photography as part of a storytelling process. The training you'll receive will allow you to take photos in just about any situation, and many photojournalists work in side gigs such as wedding photography or portraiture.