Discover your career path

Combat Photographer

Take pictures of soldiers and the wars they fight from the front lines.

What does a Combat Photographer do?

Photos of war are famous not only for their technique but also for their potent emotion, which reflects both the content of the image and the content of the war. A Combat Photographer is the person behind the lens, entrusted to capture on photo the individual moments and pervasive spirit of American military operations.

History books are brimming with these iconic war photographs. For instance, the photo of the flag raisers at Iwo Jima at the end of World War II. The picture of U.S. helicopters swarming the countryside from the Vietnam War. And the image of a green sky that’s alive with fire during the American bombing of Baghdad in the first Iraq war. These are the kinds of pictures you take as a Combat Photographer.

Typically a member of the military – although you might also be employed by a news organization – you’re part Historian and part Photojournalist, tasked with documenting the actions of the U.S. military for the government and the public.

Armed with digital cameras, you’re dispatched to military zones around the world, where you photograph the people and moments you deem most newsworthy: for example, patrols, raids, and firefights; humanitarian missions; or even life at barracks, camps, and prisons. You might tag along with infantry one day, military police another day, and medics the next. Always, however, your goal as a Combat Photographer is telling Soldiers ‘ stories of success, struggle, and sacrifice.

Although you spend some days photographing routine events, ceremonies, and publicity stunts, you spend others jumping out of airplanes, riding in tanks, and otherwise witnessing history, which is why many of your peers say they have the best job in the military!