Combat Photographer Braves Bullets to Tell Military’s Story
By Gerry J. Gilmore
American Forces Press Service
WASHINGTON, June 7, 2007 An award-winning Air Force photographer routinely braves bullets and bombs to tell the military’s story through the lenses of his Nikon cameras.
Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock, a member of the 1st Combat Camera Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C., is the Defense Department’s Military Photographer of the Year for 2007. Lock also earned that honor in 2002 and 2005. Defense Department photo
(Click photo for screen-resolution image);high-resolution image available.
Combat photographer Tech. Sgt. Jeremy T. Lock is the Defense Department’s Military Photographer of the Year for 2007. Lock also earned that honor in 2002 and 2005.
The 15-year Air Force veteran is assigned to the 1st Combat Camera Squadron, Charleston Air Force Base, S.C. Lock has photographed U.S. servicemembers in action during multiple tours in Afghanistan and Iraq.
Combat camera photographers document military operations from around the world, and their photos are routinely viewed by senior Pentagon leaders, Lock said. “We’re the eyes and ears of the Joint Chiefs of Staff,” he explained.
Lock’s photos have appeared in major publications, including the New York Times and the Los Angeles Times.
His photos also are featured in the book titled, “A Day in the Life of the United States’ Armed Forces,” along with work by 125 of the world’s-best photojournalists.
“A good photo will tell the whole story in a split-second of a frame,” Lock said. “It leaves a lasting impression and will be etched into your mind.”
Combat photographers “are pretty much given free rein” wherever they’re sent, the 36-year-old Lock said. Working in Iraq last summer, Lock took photos of military operations in Mosul and Ramadi.
“We go and search out stories” to photograph, the Dayton, Ohio, native said, noting that combat photographers are normally paired with military combat videographers and embedded with units as they perform their missions.
Lock employs two Nikon D2X digital cameras, one fitted with a wide-angle lens, the other with a telephoto, when he photographs combat-zone actions of U.S. servicemembers during “patrols, raids, whatever.”
One of Lock’s most poignant photos among his award-winning portfolio was taken in Iraq in August 2006. The image depicts a grimacing Iraqi citizen sprawled across a Ramadi street. The Iraqi was caught in the middle of a firefight between U.S. troops and insurgents, he said.
“We really don’t know who shot him,” Lock recalled. “We did a traffic control stop, and right before we mounted up, one of our soldiers took a bullet to the back and we got into a gunfight. After searching houses, this guy was found lying wounded on his side.”
The Iraqi had been hit in the hip, Lock said, noting the injured man received medical treatment by U.S. medics and survived.
The wounded Iraqi’s photo was intentionally taken from an angle, Lock noted.
“I just tried to show the viewer something different than what the normal eye would see,” the veteran photographer explained.
Lock carries a 9 mm Beretta automatic pistol along with his Nikons, “so that when we’re put on a team with the Army, Marines and Special Forces, we become an asset, not a hindrance.” Combat troops and their photographers take turns “watching each others’ backs,” he noted.
Lock said he has been shot at “quite a few times” during his war-zone tours, but has emerged unscathed. He admits that his blood pressure rises during such situations.
During firefights, “adrenalin starts rushing, and your training kicks in,” Lock explained. “I tend not to be scared until the night before a mission or just afterward.”
Despite the danger, combat photographers have “the best job in the military,” Lock emphasized.
“If I want to go flying in a plane one day, I can do that; if I want to go ride in a tank the next day, I can do that,” he explained. “We have the freedom to be creative and tell stories about many, many people.”