A little bit of info about me
A lot of this blog is the ramblings of a Royal Air Force Photographer, prior to my getting made redundant. I left the RAF in December 2012, but will always be so proud to have served. Now I am making my way in the outside world, as a self-employed photographer and videographer, based in the South West of the UK, so if you need anything, give me a shout!
Third child (of 4) of an RAF Mechanical Transport driver I was born into the RAF, and I suppose almost pre-destined to join up myself. You’d think so, but there was a time when I was determined that I was never joining the military – but I’ll save that story for a blog post one day! When I was born my family were based in Germany and we spent the first 15 years of my life moving between UK and Germany every time my dad was posted. Looking back now I can see that I had a brilliant childhood because of it. At the time, it wasn’t always such fun – having to change school and friends every 3 years at the whim of the RAF. But here I am an (undisclosed) number of years later loving my life in a blue suit!
I joined the Royal Air Force as a Photographer in 1997, and, once I’d completed 9 weeks Basic Training at RAF Halton (yes, I know, Halton, where all the smallies do their basic training – not Swinderby, where the old and bold trained!) I found myself at the Joint School of Photography at RAF Cosford, learning one end of a lens from the other, and getting my head round hyper focal distance (one for the photographers there!) After 7 months training at Cosford my first posting was to RAF Kinloss, the then home of the Nimrod maritime reconnaissance aircraft, a great first posting and I loved my 3 years there, even with a 4-month break in Kuwait, in support of air operations over Iraq.
From there I went to the No 1 Parachute Training School at RAF Brize Norton, where all Para training is conducted, and after that I moved across the runway at Brize Norton to the Joint Air Transport Evaluation Unit – basically that’s where all trials are carried out for flying things in, parachuting them out of, or hanging them under all forms of transport aircraft – chinooks, Hercules, C17’s that kind of thing. Another great posting, which was followed by my busiest tour of all, as the Command Photographer for what was the RAF’s Personnel & Training Command, based at RAF Innsworth, near Gloucester. Whilst there I travelled all over the world and photographed some amazing events and fantastic people. Again, I intend to blog about this at some point – mainly because my life now isn’t anywhere near as interesting as that posting was!
After Innsworth, via another 4-months away – this time in the Falkland Islands, which was awesome, I spent a number of years at RAF Cottesmore – the home of the Harrier “jumpjet”. I loved watching that thing fly, the way it could hover like that always had me entranced – I miss it! Whilst at Cottesmore I also did a 4 month stint in Helmand Province, which was “interesting” to say the least, but I’ll save that for another day.
I then went full circle and found myself back at the Defence School of Photography at RAF Cosford instructing other military photographers in the art of videography. I really enjoyed my job, especially convincing the die-hard “Stills” photographers that moving pictures are not magic and can be more fun that boring still photos*. I always used to get a buzz when I could almost see the light bulb switching on above a students head!
So, as you can see, yes, they do have photographers in the RAF and at times they do get to fly – well, sit in the back of the aircraft and take photos whilst the pilot flies, and it doesn’t happen that often unfortunately. Most of an RAF photographers work in the UK involves taking photos of aircraft defects, VIP visits, “Grip & Grin” presentation photos (medal presentations etc…), police forensic photography, sports events, and pretty much anything else you can think of to photograph.
On Operations in Afghanistan military photogrpahers are there to document events and provide images and footage that can’t be captured by civilian media, to ensure that the stories can be hear back home in the UK, and across the globe. The RAF (along with Army and Royal Navy photographers) generally provide a lot of the images and video footage that you see outside of the military. If it’s got “Crown Copyright” or “MoD Footage” marked on it somewhere, chances are it has been taken by someone who has been trained by the Defence School of Photography.
Married to a wonderful man, Mr Photog, with two fantastic step-sons – one of whom will soon be following my footsteps into the RAF. Finally after 4 years of living apart due to being based 120 miles apart, my husband and I are living together at last, settling down in his home county of Somerset. Finally getting to experience proper married life that doesn’t involve driving up and down the M5 on a weekend!
I am also a crafting addict and love sewing handbags, making quilts, and have even dabbled in upholstery, so there may be the odd crafty blog post going on occasionally!
So that’s me then
Any questions, either about being an RAF Photographer, or photography in general, please feel free to ask!
*I do still love stills, I may talk the big video-geek, but I don’t forget my roots in capturing a single moment in time…..