Thursday, April 5, 2012
In The Light of War: The 2011 Military Photographer of the Year
Posted by Jay at 11:55 AM
Ever since the Roger Fenton captured the image, "Valley of the Shadow of Death" depicting the aftermath of the Sevastopol in 1852, photography has been used to document the brutal reality (and sometimes romanticism) of armed conflict. It should be no surprise then that some organizations promote this branch of photography capturing both the light and dark side of war. Depicted here are some of the winners of the 2011 Military Photographer of the Year as recognized by the Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense of the USA.
The Military Photographer of the Year (MILPHOG) began in the 1960s and is part of the Visual Information Awards Program (VIAP) under the office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Public Affairs (OASD(PA)), and is supervised by the Commandant of the Defense Information School (DINFOS). The VIAP also awards distinctions for Military Graphic Artist of the Year (MILGRAPH) and Military Videographer of the Year (MILVID).
Photographers who want to submit their entries must be enlisted in any of the five Armed Services of the US (Army, Marines, Navy, Air Force and Coast Guard). This year saw some 3,500 image entries submitted by over 600 photographers from all branches of the Armed Forces.
There are ten categories in the MILPHOG; Combat Documentation, Feature, Illustrative Photography, News, Pictorial, Portrait or Personality, Picture Story, Sports, Multimedia Story Operational, and Multimedia Story Feature.
Each category has first, second and third place winners with honorable mentions depending on the judges' decision. For the distinction of Military Photographer of the Year, each photographer must submit a portfolio of 10 images, one for Combat Documentation, one for Picture Story, and the rest in any of the other categories, excluding Multimedia Story. A panel of judges comprised of professionals from television studios to universities to national organizations has the tough job of selecting the winners for each category.
The MILPHOG is designed to recognize excellence among photographers engaged in documenting the actions of the military. While the judges' role in awarded the best of the best is certainly a tough one, it must even be harder for the photographers themselves who must walk the fine line between capturing the honorable and brave, and the downright violent and bloody.
It's not uncommon to find criticism directed towards the US Military's censorship policies, so it's a breath of fresh air to see the organization recognize the photographs of its enlisted men, no matter how vivid and explicit some of them may be.
The whole collection of winning images for the 2011 Military Photographer of the Year can be viewed over at the Visual Information Awards Program of the Defense Information School website. Be warned though that some of the images are extremely graphic and not for the faint of heart.