Navy Enlisted Rating (Job) Descriptions

Photographers Mate (PH)

Photographers Mate 3Rd Class Dan Bassett Shoots Video Of An E2 C Hawkeye Landing On The Flight Deck
••• U.S. Navy / Getty Images

Note: this rating no longer exists. It was merged into the new Mass Communications Specialist (MC) rating in July 2006. The job description is maintained here for historic purposes only.

General Info:

Photographer’s Mates serve as the Navy’s professional photographers. They operate different kinds of still and video equipment on a variety of assignments. PHs cover news events, ceremonies, accident investigations and provide photography for release to Navy and civilian publications or for use in Navy historical documents. Their work may include portrait photography, photographic copying, aerial photography for map making and reconnaissance, scanning and editing of digital video images along with the production of training films, video news reports and all other types of audiovisual work.

Along with the training provided to support all aspects of photographic laboratory work, some PHs receive additional training in the troubleshooting and repair and maintenance of photographic equipment and camera repair. This is a five-year enlistment program.

What They Do:

The duties performed by PHs include:

• operation and maintenance of various types of still and video cameras;

• performing duties as members of flight crews;

• operating laboratory and darkroom equipment for film and print production;

• mixing and quality control of photographic chemicals and solutions;

• preparation of audiovisual productions;

• performing duties as underwater photographers;

• working as part of reconnaissance aircraft flight deck support crews;

• repair and maintenance of cameras and photographic laboratory equipment;

• operating video and electronic imaging equipment;

• photographing and writing articles for publication;

• providing photographic documentation for criminal and safety investigations.


Qualifications and Interest:

Photographer’s Mates must be able to relate to people in a creative and professional manner. Self-motivation, a good memory, above average speaking and writing skills, and the ability to follow detailed instructions with limited supervision are all important qualifications for this rating. Normal color perception is required. The ability to work as part of a team or individually, a knowledge of arithmetic and basic chemistry, good manual dexterity and physical strength are also helpful. PHs must be U.S. citizens eligible for security clearances.

Technical Training Information:

Enlistees are taught the fundamentals of this rating through formal Navy schooling. Advanced technical and operational training are available in this rating during later stages of career development.

Fort Meade, MD -- 95 calendar days

    Working Environment:

    PHs are assigned worldwide at sea and ashore. They may work indoors or outdoors in all climates, providing support to shipboard crew, Seabee units, aircraft squadrons and public affairs units. While performing laboratory work, they work indoors in and out of darkrooms. They can be called on to work alone or with other photographers as part of photo-documentation teams. At times they are closely supervised and at other times they may work independently. Work varies from using precision laboratory equipment to strenuous flight deck assignments.

    After “A” school, Photographer’s Mates may be assigned to any kind of ship, shore station, Navy photo center, naval air station or other naval activity in the United States or overseas. During a 20-year period in the Navy, PHs usually spend 60 percent of their time assigned to fleet units and 40 percent to shore stations.