All photographers strive to get the perfect shot, but unlike traditional photographers such as wedding and portrait photographers, a combat photographer does so while avoiding actual shots during active combat. The job isn’t the safest career you could ever have, but this type of photography serves an important role and allows the photographer access to the heat of the action. Through their lens, these highly trained combat photographers use their skills and camera equipment to document highly volatile military actions, political uprisings, and war zones for both military and news organizations.
According to the Marines, a combat photographer can have a Primary Military Occupation Specialty (PMOS) of 4641, which officially designates the soldier as a combat photographer.
Modern combat photographers take digital pictures using a variety of camera equipment in various environments to support initiatives including recruitment, intelligence documentation, information operations and military investigations.
A combat photographer could also be responsible for drafting reports, managing photography software, maintaining camera equipment, and even running the unit’s photographic operations budget for their specialized role.
The average salary for a combat photographer is around $48,000. Salaries may vary depending on location and specific mission.
If you’re interested in pursuing a military job in combat photography it is important to note that you must have normal color vision, have an Armed Services Vocational Aptitude Battery (ASVAB) General Technical (GT) score of 100 or higher, be eligible for security clearances and be a U.S. Citizen. A prospective photographer must also complete a Basic Still Photographic Course or demonstrate a solid competence of Military Occupational Specialty (MOS) proficiency in a civilian photography school.