Photographic Specialists

Photographic Specialists

The military uses photographs for many purposes, such as intelligence gathering and news reporting. The services operate photographic laboratories to develop the numerous photos taken by the military. Photographic specialists take and develop still color or black and white photographs.

Job Details:

What They Do:

Photographic specialists in the military perform some or all of the following duties:
  • Select camera, film, and other equipment needed for assignments
  • Determine camera angles, lighting, and any special effects needed
  • Take still photos of people, events, military equipment, land areas, and other subjects
  • Develop, duplicate, or retouch film negatives, photos, or slides
  • Maintain photographic equipment

Civilian Counterparts:

Civilian photographic specialists work for photography studios, newspapers, magazines, advertising agencies, commercial photograph developers, and large businesses. They perform duties similar to military specialists. Depending on the specialty, they may be known as photojournalists, aerial or still photographers, film developers, automatic print developers, or print controllers.

Work Environment:

Photographic specialists work both indoors and outdoors while photographing their subjects. They may take photos from aircraft or ships. They process photographs in photographic laboratories on bases or aboard ships.


The services have about 1,500 photographic specialists. Each year, the services need new specialists due to changes in personnel and the demands of the field. After job training, specialists work under supervision. With experience, they are given more responsibility and, eventually, may supervise other photographic specialists.