COMMENTARY: Power of a photo
OSAN AIR BASE, Republic of Korea -- On a gritty day filled with smoke and gunfire, a war correspondent and his team of combat photographers hiked up the steep mountain with determination in their eyes.
Reaching the summit, he finds out the battle is over, but he still had time for one last photo.
He placed a sandbag and a pile of rocks down, stood on top, adjusted his camera and captured the single-most iconic picture in history: Raising the Flag on Iwo Jima.
Joseph Rosenthal woke up on Feb. 23, 1945, with no idea that he would capture a photo that encapsulated the U.S. armed forces’ victory in World War II.
When I was a young, naive Airman and photojournalist, one of the base group commanders came to sit in on one of my office’s weekly staff meetings. He shared with us this story of Rosenthal to showcase how important our career field is and how powerful a photo can be.
I have heard the phrase, “Ohh you’re Public Affairs, you just take pictures,” too many times.
Not only is that not true, but those pictures my colleagues and I take can inspire your own life, and you might not even know it.
That picture of a Community College of the Air Force graduation could inspire a master sergeant in the crowd to finally take charge of his education and go for a Bachelor’s degree.
That picture of a fighter jet taking off for a mission could reach a class of fourth graders, starting a young child’s path to become the next Ace combat pilot.
That picture of a service member serving their country may be hung on the wall for their great grandchildren to see someday and be proud of.
A strong photo has the ability to transport us to other places we may never see for ourselves.
I have served in the Air Force as a photojournalist for over three years now, and even though I may not reach the summit, that won’t stop me from trying.
The way I look at it, I’ve had thousands of people smile for me. Even though I’m just the man behind the lens, bringing joy and inspiration to others is what I strive for every day.
If I can inspire at least one person with my photography along the way, I’ve done my job.