September. The Changing Seasons. (2016)

Life has been busy lately. As the summer seems to be cooking off and showing hints of fall, the world keeps spinning. It feels like this year has gone by incredibly fast. Whether that is good or bad, I cannot say.

Regardless, I cannot change time any more than I can stop the rotation of the seasons. I don’t think I would really want to though. Change is part of life, and natural. No matter what element of life you look at, change is there.

In my Army Reserve job, we had a recent big change. We welcomed a new commander. As a public affairs officer, my job is unique and frankly, pretty fun. The most obvious task I do is take pictures. In fact, some fellow Soldiers think that is all public affairs officers really do. Picture taking is an important factor of story telling of course. However, there are so many other key tasks we do.

davis-aoc088

For this type of ceremony, this is the key shot. This is where the new commander accepts the unit guidon from the higher commander, a symbolic action that shows he is now in charge of the troops-he is now in command.

Take this recent ceremony for example. When we welcome a new commander, military units conduct a traditional ceremony. It is either an assumption of command or a change of command. The difference between the two is whether or not the outgoing commander plays a part in the formation. If the outgoing commander cannot be at the ceremony for whatever reason (already at next assignment, deployed, personal conflict, etc.), the appropriate ceremony is called an Assumption of Command. If the outgoing commander is there, it is called a Change of Command. No matter what they call it, the job is the same for the rest of us Soldiers. A ceremony and all of its elements must be planned. And for public affairs officers, it is a lot more than just showing up and taking pictures.

Weeks before the ceremony, information (ceremony times/locations, in- and outgoing commander biographies) must be gathered to assist in the editing of ceremony programs and media planning. Media advisories, which are basically invitations to the civilian media, are then created and sent out. Then comes the fielding of any questions from the media about the ceremony in order for them to prepare.

On the day of the actual ceremony, the heavy work begins. In this particular ceremony, I was a one-Soldier media team. I greeted the media (two television station reporters and a team of one newspaper reporter and one photographer) upon their arrival, pointed them to the right places, brought them Soldiers to interview, watched the interviews for later feedback to the Soldiers themselves (said too many ‘ums’ or looked nervous), took pictures to document the events, and recorded quotes and notes for a later article.

dsc_0320

Oh, and in between all of that, you are trying to watch what is going on elsewhere in case another media person needs help or there is something you need to photograph. You also take candid shots of the Soldiers for moral purposes and later use, and just because they look really cool.

davis-aoc061

Normally, for large media events, there are more public affairs Soldiers. In this case, it would have been nice to have some experienced help, but there just wasn’t any other public affairs Soldiers available. And after 15 years in the public affairs field, I knew I would be busy, but it was still manageable.

After the event, most Soldiers involved in the ceremony are pretty much done, outside of clean up and the returning/cleaning of whatever items where borrowed or used. For public affairs Soldiers, our work is only half complete. Now, we have an array of post-production work. Media who came to the ceremony may call with some last minute questions. Pictures must be edited/captioned, posted to unit social media sites, marketed to various news agencies, and copied for historical purposes. Notes and quotes from the ceremony must be molded into a journalistic article that is either in a news or feature format, like any Associate Press style article you would read. (My recent article can be found here.)

Once that is complete, public affairs officers will then search websites, newspapers, social media platforms and TV stations for any coverage on the unit. Like any business, leaders want follow-on reports that list media links and public comments. We also upload ceremony products and monitor feedback on the unit’s various platforms: Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, website, and more.

The job involves a lot of elements and is vastly misunderstood, even by fellow Soldiers. There is the assumption we only take pictures and play on Facebook. While we do have to complete those tasks, there is a much larger picture. (Pun intended.) We are the storytellers of our Soldiers. We are the media managers and handlers. We are the documenters of events. We are the monitors of public perception.

In journalism college, they taught us a simple rule. If something is not documented, it is like it never happened. We record the mood, comments and facts of an event. It is not that we create history, but we are there to ensure history is not forgotten. Now take this job to the battle field or a foreign country where your sons, daughters, brothers, sisters or parents are serving, and it is even more critical. The public affairs job reveals what our Soldiers are doing for the American public to see. It motivates our Soldiers and reminds them that their job is indeed making a difference. Add those elements to the fact that I get to take pictures and write stories, and it is the best job in the Army – well, at least for me.

So in honor of the love of photography, and as a submission to Cardinal Guzman’s Changing Seasons Challenge, here is a visual reflection of what my September looked like.

For those of you not familiar with Cardinal’s challenge, click here to see a detailed explanation. But essentially, it is a monthly challenge where you document your month. It may be with photos, a poem, a recipe or some other creative means. So check it out and join in on the fun.

Either way, click over to Cardinal’s page if you like amazing photographs, interesting stories or yummy recipes. He really has a plethora of quality content on there. Heck, he can even sell you a shirt or two. How is that for variety?

Well, take care and enjoy your month:)

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

For Cardinal’s September post, just click the badge.

thechangingseasons_6367

 

Advertisements

20 thoughts on “September. The Changing Seasons. (2016)

    1. Thank you Laura. It can be very interesting. On deployments, I have been lucky to meet a variety of people because of my job too. People from Gen. Casey to Toby Keith. The harder part of the job is dealing with crisis when bad things concerning the military happen. That’s when press conferences and press releases come in. Those can be stressful due to their topics, but still very important to inform the public of whatever the issue are. For example, I was working at the press desk in Iraq when a big named terrorist was killed. I had to field questions from FOX, CNN, NBC…. That was hard as it was still so new, the information had not been given to me to even know or release yet. So that was a lot of back and forth and limited statements, which the media gets frustrated at. But you can’t say what you don’t know yet. And, it takes time for the information to get from the mission to the higher ups to decide what can be released while keeping troops and future missions safe. Lots of things to consider before releasing.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Wow That’s impressive! And I’m sure very stressful. In times like those, people always want information so quickly yet if misinformation is given, they have a fit and say they wish they would just take their time and get it right. Can’t win! lol

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Oh definitely, you cannot win with all crowds. The best we hope for is just say what happened as soon as we know it. I can understand the right of the public to know. Yet, having been deployed, I also know how servicemembers lives must come first. Getting out of a dangerous situation certainly is priority over stopping to pass along info. That can come once everyone is safe. And, if there are future mission/targets tied into one event, it just needs to wait to be released. I think most Americans get that though. Or, at least I hope they do.

          Liked by 1 person

          1. Makes total sense! I wouldn’t expect the info to be passed along before the service members lives were safe. I get all that what you say but honestly? I’m thinking there are more dense people in America lately than I originally thought.

            Liked by 1 person

  1. Great post! You’re early with your September post, but it’s OK. Mine will be up in a few days from now (hopefully). I haven’t started to edit my photos yet, but I’ll probably do it tomorrow: it’s a nice Sunday activity for a single man. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Thanks! I have fun with it indeed. I wish I did those things in my civilian job and went out on more assignments. But, its nice to enjoy my home too. So, I am not complaining too much. And no problem on the kind words. They were just the facts man. 🙂

        Like

    1. It is an important job, or so I think. I remember on my first deployment, I took a simple photo of a Soldier checking IDs and we wound up putting it on the base magazine. I found the Soldier and showed him and he beamed. “Can I get some copies for my family?” It was that moment, that I thought, ‘If I can make just one Soldier feel good about what they do, it was important.’ I am passionate about stories and pictures, which is why I started blogging. I missed it greatly after I left my civilian job at a photo studio for my editor civilian job with the government. But between my Reserve job and blogging, I am getting my fill. 🙂

      Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s