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Home : News : News
NEWS | Nov. 14, 2013

Photographers not only document, tell service story

By Alex Salinas Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph Public Affairs

Photographers from the photo imaging divisions of the 502nd Air Base Wing Public Affairs offices at Joint Base San Antonio-Randolph, JBSA-Lackland and JBSA-Fort Sam Houston stay busy as their role evolves and their position is not only to document events for posterity, but to tell the Department of Defense story in order to increase public understanding.

With a team of nine civilian photographers and five Air Force military photojournalists between the three locations, "we have a good mix of people with many years of experience to support the public affairs mission," Dan Solis, JBSA Visual Information chief, said.

Most JBSA civilian photographers have had their work professionally published and the average time in the career field is more than 20 years - some more than 40 years.

"We see our role as photojournalists as a step in a new direction toward a military multimedia hybrid lab," Solis said.

Today's role as a photographer involves not only taking the photographs, but conducting interviews and posting it to the Web within certain time constraints.

"JBSA photographers have incorporated more of a storytelling aspect to their photography in recent years," Benjamin Faske, JBSA-Lackland photographer and mobile app lead, said. "Through closer work with the base newspaper staffs and with the creation of new multimedia products, photographers are now able to focus their craft specifically to the DOD missions within JBSA."

The wide range of photographic services offered at all three locations, in addition to the photojournalist aspect of the job, includes studio portraits, on-location jobs, documentation, copying, digital imaging and self-help photography."

Examples of location photography are award ceremonies, retirements, mission briefings and base-wide events.

Studio work involves taking head-and-shoulders portraits for inclusion in special duty assignment applications, official travel passports and at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Department of the Army promotion photos.

"On busier days, we take about 15 to 20 Soldiers' pictures per day," Richard Valdez, JBSA-Fort Sam Houston Visual Information manager, said. "The portraits are mandatory for Soldiers to have in their military records prior to being looked at for promotion."

During this past quarter more than 850 Department of the Army photos were taken at JBSA-Fort Sam Houston, Valdez said.

Active-duty members and civilians who require passport photos must have an authorized agent at their location' s passport office sign a work order form before scheduling a passport photo appointment.

While turnaround times for products vary based on the request, portrait appointments usually take about 15 minutes, Solis said. Customers leave their appointment with a printed copy or digital file in hand that same day.

In addition to location photography and studio portrait work, JBSA photographers are also responsible for alert photography that includes investigative assignments, which is usually at the request of security forces or the Air Force Office of Special Investigations.

As the host visual information offices, the team provides installation support services to mission partners at all three primary JBSA locations and on average provides about 26,000 photographic products each quarter, according to Solis.

To see some of the photographic products used to tell the story, go to one of the PA team's four Facebook pages at:;; or JBSA photos are also posted to the JBSA website at