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I spent a year in Iraq as a Combat Camera, now what?

Ok I am just about done with my year deployment in Iraq as a Combat Camera. I am working to put all my photos together and would say I think I have a fairly good portfolio. So, where do I go from here?

Would it be fair to say, I could embed with someone? Could I get a job doing this, or is that more freelance? If you were me, where would you send your portfolio to? NY times? Any help to push me in the right direction would be nice!

by Jason Young at 2011-03-04 19:11:46 UTC | Bookmark | | Report spam→

Honestly Jason, I think you are in it with the rest of us—-while your combat experience has value there is no doubt—a portfolio helps it illustrate that as well—-but the bigger battle is with editors and your access/connection to them which is based on mostly performance and past experience.

There is a certain amount of conflict photography going on in the world right now—-and it will always be so—-but then there is a legion of shooters that supply these shots and they are the go to people for editors—-from the NYT, TIME, NewsWeek or whatever—-the occassional side shot sneaks in because these main shooters can’t be everywhere all the time and also because conflict shooters pick their spot, entrench and cover it all —-everything that happens there and when it goes big, they have the first shots and the intense side stories because, if they are any good, they have the connections already in place.

Maybe its the classic, not what you know but who you know—-now profficiency in photo gets you in the door but it doesn’t mean you won’t have to wait in the hallway like the rest of us. At least its not the who you know because of a last name but who you know because you deliver the shots the editor wants and needs before deadline with no excuses….


by David Bro | 04 Mar 2011 20:03 | Orange County, california, United States | | Report spam→
Speak to Stacy Pearsall, maybe she can help with some direction. Also you can check her work to see if yours get to be competitive maybe…


My 2 cents.


by [former member] | 04 Mar 2011 21:03 | London, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
Check out the Eddie Adams Workshop when you separate from the military.

That’s what I did after five years as a ComCam guy, helped me make the transition from a military photog to a civilian. You’ll get to meet a lot of professionals in the photojournalism industry and learn how to bring your work to the next level.

Try and meet some photographers whose work you admire, and listen to their advice. If you want to shoot for NY Times, then you’ve surely got a lot of “next levels” ahead of you, so get cracking.

by Ben Brody | 04 Mar 2011 22:03 | Boston, United States | | Report spam→
Thanks for the advice guys, although a tad discouraging. What keep you all motivated to press on? When I am not deployed I am a professional photog. I know I will have work when I get home, but I am not sure it is what I want to do. I want to shoot what I love to shoot, and that is what I am shooting now.

As far as Stacy, yes, she is all the talk around the military as far as photogs are concerned. I will just press on and keep trying to get in the game! Again thanks!

by Jason Young | 05 Mar 2011 08:03 | Baghdad , Iraq | | Report spam→
Ben I have a question for you. I do not write. Will this be a hindrance for what I am looking to do?

by Jason Young | 05 Mar 2011 11:03 | Baghdad , Iraq | | Report spam→
You haven’t said what you’re looking to do! Anyway, there are plenty of great photographers who are hopeless writers, and vice versa. Obviously, the more skills you have, the easier it will be to get satisfying work. Definitely get up to speed on video and multimedia if you haven’t. Bo staff skills can be a plus as well.

by Ben Brody | 06 Mar 2011 00:03 | Boston, United States | | Report spam→
True. I want to shoot conflict photos.

BTW, I can write a mean AP style caption!

by Jason Young | 06 Mar 2011 06:03 | Baghdad , Iraq | | Report spam→
Jason…If that cute little girl in your profile photo is your daughter then you might consider being a father that is alive and in one piece than the romantic notion of the “combat photog.” There are many other issues to hone your PJ skills on. What kind of pics where you shooting at home? Just a thought.

by Gregory Sharko | 06 Mar 2011 21:03 | Brooklyn, New York, United States | | Report spam→
Oh, here we go. It’s one thing to tell some starry-eyed fashion photographer that he’ll surely die on his first day in a war zone, but Jason is a U.S. soldier in Iraq. I think he has the training and understands the risks. Let’s stay on topic.

Jason: Solicit advice from the photographers whose work you admire, ignore the hipsters and the haters. Make a real website too, so you can show people your work so far.

by Ben Brody | 06 Mar 2011 22:03 | Boston, United States | | Report spam→

You might check out Justin Mott here on lightstalkers and especially his blog—-its not conflict per se but he has picked out his spot overseas, in asia—vietnam—-and chronicles that issues at hand in a very realistic way—-i’d put it here for you bout going out the door now.


by David Bro | 07 Mar 2011 01:03 | Orange County, california, United States | | Report spam→

producing that important first body of work seems to be step 1. however you can pull it off. flip burgers, repair tanks or hassle young skateboarders (security). shoot in the free time and organize a kick arse body of work to start the carpet bomb campaign. one it’s together make sure everyone and anyone has a look and knows who you are.

i agree with David that picking a “spot” can be a great move. make sure everyone knows you are there.

by john d | 07 Mar 2011 14:03 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→

There’s some really good advice in here. I come from a military journalism background, shooting with the 106th Rescue Wing for the last couple of years, and I can tell you that it’s incredibly difficult breaking into the pro market. It took me a long time to get where I’m at, and even now it doesn’t completely pay the bills. Truth be told I’m seriously contemplating taking a break for a few months, going back to active duty for a bit to replenish my gear.

Here’s my advice, such as it is. Find a local paper and put out some kick-ass day to day work, see if you can realistically make a living working on the basic stuff. Once you have a more diverse portfolio (conflict/military photos, by themselves, rarely make for a well rounded portfolio) then start trying to get assigned to the bigger stories. That worked for me, more or less. The other thing I’d suggest is to save some money, and try to self-fund for a story you really feel strongly about, then try to sell it after the fact.

Good luck, dude! When’d you graduate from DINFOS?

by CS Muncy | 07 Mar 2011 16:03 | Madison States, United States | | Report spam→
do not worry about what next ..your are alive with good shoots and experience,work on your website and projects in your country or international.Look at what you want to specialize in and what makes you tick and go for it.The next thing will find you.Africa has alot of area which need brave people like you to cover conflicts look for assignments and go for it

by collins Gituma | 07 Mar 2011 19:03 | Nairobi, Kenya | | Report spam→
Thanks for all the help yall.. I will just go with the flow it looks.

by Jason Young | 15 Mar 2011 18:03 | Baghdad , Iraq | | Report spam→
Check out Larry Towell who raised money for his trip to Afghanistan. Perhaps you might do something similar and finance a book printing. http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/561413962/crisis-in-afghanistan

by Bruce Hildebrand | 15 Mar 2011 19:03 | Winnipeg, Canada | | Report spam→
Maybe switch to flowers and landscapes?
It worked for Don McCullin ;-)

by JR, (John Watts-Robertson). | 15 Mar 2011 20:03 | rothwell, United Kingdom | | Report spam→
what now? take an 50% pay cut, pay your own way (travel, lodging, gear, comms), sleep without a weapon or security, get told by your old bosses that you can’t shoot what you shot before or go where you went before, get told by your new bosses that what you’re shooting and where you’re going isn’t that interesting, drink more, bitch less, eat local, phone global, figure out that covering combat isn’t the same as covering war and that the people you shot at are part of the story and not simply the enemy. And that’s just the start.

by Tom Popyk | 17 Mar 2011 09:03 | Manama, Bahrain | | Report spam→


by Farhaj | 22 Mar 2011 21:03 | Central New Jersey, United States | | Report spam→
While not as specific as some of the advice on offer here, you are following a well worn path, and Alex Garcia’s Blog (Chicago Tribune http://newsblogs.chicagotribune.com/assignment-chicago/2011/02/getting-your-start-in-photojournalism-.html) may offer some relevant insights.


by Victor Biro | 24 Mar 2011 01:03 | Toronto, Canada | | Report spam→
Thank you all for the help. Any suggestions on where I can fund myself and get my feet wet? Any areas of conflict that may need some attention?

by Jason Young | 28 Mar 2011 04:03 | Baghdad , Iraq | | Report spam→

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Jason Young, Soldier Jason Young
Baghdad , Iraq
David Bro, freelance editorial David Bro
freelance editorial
Orange County , United States ( LAX )
Ben Brody, Photojournalist Ben Brody
Boston , United States ( BOS )
Gregory Sharko, photographer Gregory Sharko
Brooklyn, New York , United States ( JFK )
john d, retired hooligan john d
retired hooligan
(whats a tagline?)
Istanbul , Turkey
CS Muncy, Photojournalist CS Muncy
New York , United States ( JFK )
collins Gituma, Photographer & Designer collins Gituma
Photographer & Designer
Nairobi , Kenya
Bruce Hildebrand, photo/video journalist Bruce Hildebrand
photo/video journalist
Winnnipeg , Canada
JR, (John Watts-Robertson)., Photographer JR, (John Watts-Robertson).
Rothwell , United Kingdom
Tom Popyk, Journalist/Videographer Tom Popyk
New Delhi , India
Farhaj, Soldier Farhaj
Central New Jersey , United States
Victor Biro, Photojournalist Victor Biro
Toronto , Canada


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