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  1. #1
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Charleston, SC
    Posts
    2,364

    BFA in Photography gone Nuclear....

    I wanted to go Pro a few months ago and started looking at my options.
    I thought about getting my degree in photography but the soonest I could graduate from either of the two universities within 100 miles of me would be 2012 WITH my existing 75 hours (liberal arts).

    Immediately I was dissuaded and looked into other options.
    Somehow or another via Google searching I found out the US Navy has a photography rating [job]. I signed up for a brochure and got a recruiter instead.

    I was dead set on being a Photog until I looked at the other jobs. I noticed there was an Advanced Computer Electronics Field that sounded very interesting and then I caught wind of the Nuclear Field. This was VERY enticing. The money offered in the private sector is huge!

    I tested, did very well, and qualified for the Nuke program. A far cry from a photographer, but lots more potential for advancement and more $$ for gear.

    I learned that on my free time I could do "collateral duty" as a photographer so I could still get that out of my system. I could work for the Navy newspapers/publications and websites.

    It's funny where life takes you, best advice I heard was "ride the wave, hang on, and have fun"

    I don't know if I'll have access to websites like this for a while after I ship out. I hope I will, else I'll be missing you folks, save for Razr.
    US Navy--Hooyah!

    Nikon D700/D300|17-35 f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8, Sigmalux, 80-200 f/2.8, 16 f/2.8 fisheye,

    Lots of flashes and Honl gear.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Great White North
    Posts
    1,313
    Obi - Congratulations. It sounds like you are going through a very exciting time in your life. My friend's father is a nuclear physicist and you are right. The money is indeed huge.

    If I could make one comment regarding your choice, I'll say the same thing that I went on at length about here one time in the past (big surprise there I bet). There was a great American professor by the name of Joseph Campbell. He coined the phrase 'follow your bliss'. He did a PBS series with Bill Moyer called 'The Power of Myth'. There is also a ton of written material by and about him available. A major part of his philosophy is that it's easy to go off the track of your bliss - your passion in the pursuit of money but when this happens, true happiness can never be found. I would highly recommend that anyone making a career choice familiarize themselves with his work. If nothing else, it will prove to be both entertaining and informative. Good luck!
    The respect of those you respect is greater than the applause of the multitude.

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Jul 2004
    Location
    Formerly South Wales. Now South Carolina.
    Posts
    7,147
    The US forces offer far more chances of advancement than the UK forces. My father-in-law came from rural Ohio. He joined the navy and fought through the Korean war. That paid for him to become a dentist. His daughters both gained doctorates and his son became a nuclear safety officer.

    I think you're onto a good thing there. If I were younger then I might have considered joining the forces again.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,225
    Obi,

    As you may be aware, I spent 13 years in the military (U.S. Air Force). So, I definitely want to say that I encourage anyone who wants to serve their country consider service in the military forces.

    That said, be very careful that you understand that service is primarily at the need of the service. If the service's need changes, you could find yourself in another field in the blink of an eye. This is particularly true of the enlisted ranks. I have a friend who initially tested well for one job, but ended up having to serve in a different capacity. It may be buried deeply, but there will be language in your enlistment contract that specifies that there are no guarantees how you will be asked to serve.

    Secondly, recruiters are notorious for telling you what you could do, and that having nothing to do with reality. All duties not associated with your primary duty are called additional duties. Those duties are assigned by your local command structure, and have nothing to do with what your recruiter may have said or promised you. What I'm saying is you can probably count on about a 0.000001% chance of photography being included in your additional duties. It could happen, but it is at the whim, and more importantly, the need of your command structure.

    You should consider what Nuclear service in the Navy entails. The Navy has no land based nuclear reactors that I am aware of, so you are considering ship duty. There is the possibility of land based nuclear weapons duty, but I don't know what the availability of those positions are.

    Next, what types of ships have nuclear power, and where do they spend their time. There are Nuclear carriers, cruisers, frigates and possibly destroyers. There are also nuclear submarines. Get duty on a boomer and you will be months at a time below the surface of the water. Not great for photography, even if you are allowed to bring your camera.

    Naval vessels also have significant restrictions on the amount of personal gear that may be taken. This is more restrictive on lower ranking personnel. Many types of vessels may have missions that are at a classification level that does not even allow you to bring a camera aboard.

    I now work in a civilian job that involves a defense contract and some of the information we deal with is classified. I cannot bring so much as a cell phone or cf card within the closed area that I work in. Even if I store the phone outside in the lock box, I cannot even have a phone with a camera on the site I work at. Nuclear naval vessels deal with much higher levels of classification than I deal with in my job, so you should carefully consider this information.

    I commend you for considering service to your country. It is honorable duty. However, it is a commitment to service. It is not a guarantee of training for future work or a way to promote your hobby. Do it for the right reason and you can proudly say you served your country, as can I. Do it for the wrong reason and it can lead to heartbreak.

    I do not wish to discourage you, but I do want you to go forward with a clear head. You have my support in whatever you decide is the best choice for you.

    Eric
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Dec 2006
    Location
    Great White North
    Posts
    1,313
    Fantastic post Eric! Its very interesting to hear the opinion of someone who has been on the inside.

    I can imagine how tight security must be. I've read a few books about the Lockheed skunkworks during the development of the F-117 and the SR-71. It seems like most people there had a hard time dealing with it.
    The respect of those you respect is greater than the applause of the multitude.

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Feb 2007
    Location
    Illinois, USA
    Posts
    1,129
    At the risk of being unpopular, if you're willing to die for Bush (who has never worked a military job in his life) then you deserve to die for Bush. I'm not saying what the American forces do for our country don't matter, but if you're coming in, and think you're more than a pea sized slice of a pawn sized pie, you're fooling yourself. If you accept that, and can still see your job as noble, then good for you. I honestly wish you the best of luck, and god bless you.

  7. #7
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Charleston, SC
    Posts
    2,364
    Quote Originally Posted by griptape View Post
    At the risk of being unpopular, if you're willing to die for Bush (who has never worked a military job in his life) then you deserve to die for Bush. I'm not saying what the American forces do for our country don't matter, but if you're coming in, and think you're more than a pea sized slice of a pawn sized pie, you're fooling yourself. If you accept that, and can still see your job as noble, then good for you. I honestly wish you the best of luck, and god bless you.
    And to die for Hilary or Obama would be better? If I die, it's for my country, not a temporary leader.
    Last edited by TheObiJuan; 11-16-2007 at 08:54 PM.
    US Navy--Hooyah!

    Nikon D700/D300|17-35 f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8, Sigmalux, 80-200 f/2.8, 16 f/2.8 fisheye,

    Lots of flashes and Honl gear.

  8. #8
    Join Date
    Dec 2004
    Location
    Charleston, SC
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    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    Obi,

    As you may be aware, I spent 13 years in the military (U.S. Air Force). So, I definitely want to say that I encourage anyone who wants to serve their country consider service in the military forces.
    I honor you for your service, greatly respect your opinion, and appreciate your long response.

    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    That said, be very careful that you understand that service is primarily at the need of the service. If the service's need changes, you could find yourself in another field in the blink of an eye. This is particularly true of the enlisted ranks. I have a friend who initially tested well for one job, but ended up having to serve in a different capacity. It may be buried deeply, but there will be language in your enlistment contract that specifies that there are no guarantees how you will be asked to serve.
    The Navy changing a seaman's rating in a blink of an eye is alltogether likely, however on certain positions that require extreme training or proficiency, it is nearly impossible. Aviators, Seals, Nukes, etc, are too damn important to swap around when undermanned positions pop up. In fact, these are the most undermanned positions. Good thing too, since the bonuses are the greatest!

    The training for the Nuke program is two years long. After training I am NOT eligible to change my rating [re-rate] because of the extreme training I have received. 99% of other ratings [jobs] do permit you to swam. So if I complete my training and hate it, I'm out of luck for 4 years. I'll just make the best of it.

    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    Secondly, recruiters are notorious for telling you what you could do, and that having nothing to do with reality. All duties not associated with your primary duty are called additional duties. Those duties are assigned by your local command structure, and have nothing to do with what your recruiter may have said or promised you. What I'm saying is you can probably count on about a 0.000001% chance of photography being included in your additional duties. It could happen, but it is at the whim, and more importantly, the need of your command structure.
    I completely understand the whole recruiter game. I joined the Army back in 2003 and got out in 2005. I was in a special program that turned out to be different than I was promised. I served my time, bit my lip and carried away only important lessons. This time around I believe nothing until I hear it from retired folks, in writing, or experience it myself.
    The job doing photography would not be assigned to me; I'd just volunteer. Kinda like if someone wants to chip paint on their free-time, more power too them.
    I actually spoke to a retired Naval Photographer that told me about the collateral job availability. I'd be kinda a freelance guy. My primary duties and assigned extra duties [like watches] would come first, obviously.

    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    You should consider what Nuclear service in the Navy entails. The Navy has no land based nuclear reactors that I am aware of, so you are considering ship duty. There is the possibility of land based nuclear weapons duty, but I don't know what the availability of those positions are.
    I have considered everything I could possibly conceive of from over a month of daily searching and asking. The Navy has multiple training facilities on land. These facilities have nuclear units that do need operating. Usually this job is done by retired nukes as civilians. I could be an instructor if chosen after my initial schooling. That would go on for two years, but I have little desire to do this. I want my certifications ASAP.
    I am certainly considering ship duty. As a nuke I would never see or work with nuclear weapons, just the nuclear propulsion. I could get lucky and get a carrier that is docked for my assignment, this would mean I may only go out for a couple of weeks here and there. If not, then the usual tour is 6 months at sea and 18 months docked. I'm perfectly happy with this scenario too.

    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    Next, what types of ships have nuclear power, and where do they spend their time. There are Nuclear carriers, cruisers, frigates and possibly destroyers. There are also nuclear submarines. Get duty on a boomer and you will be months at a time below the surface of the water. Not great for photography, even if you are allowed to bring your camera.
    Sub duty is 100% volunteer. They pay enough incentive to keep it that way.
    But if I chose one it is 3 months under, 9-12 months above water. Rinse and repeat. Sometimes they make it 2 months instead of 3.

    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    Naval vessels also have significant restrictions on the amount of personal gear that may be taken. This is more restrictive on lower ranking personnel. Many types of vessels may have missions that are at a classification level that does not even allow you to bring a camera aboard.
    This I have heard and have been told I would be limited by volume how much total gear I could bring. I guess less books and more camera gear.
    I will be a E-5 after the two year training so this may help.
    I understand it to be that some parts of the ship are classified/secret/top secret so I would clearly not bring my gear around them. I would be photographing ceremonies, events, etc for the navy and my own leisure.
    If my camera is not allowed at all on any vessel I may temporarily be on than so be it. I'm a Nuke, not a photog, so no spilled milk. Navy photogs are sent where they are needed an assigned where they can be. If I see one around I don't see why I can't be shooting too, especially if my clearance level would likely be higher.

    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    I now work in a civilian job that involves a defense contract and some of the information we deal with is classified. I cannot bring so much as a cell phone or cf card within the closed area that I work in. Even if I store the phone outside in the lock box, I cannot even have a phone with a camera on the site I work at. Nuclear naval vessels deal with much higher levels of classification than I deal with in my job, so you should carefully consider this information.
    Oh yeah, I know the limitations and totally understand why it is crucial. I have no need or desire to shoot where I work unless asked to by my command for promotional or educational purposes.

    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    I commend you for considering service to your country. It is honorable duty. However, it is a commitment to service. It is not a guarantee of training for future work or a way to promote your hobby. Do it for the right reason and you can proudly say you served your country, as can I. Do it for the wrong reason and it can lead to heartbreak.
    I completely agree with this as well. I am joining to serve again. I will travel a lot, make some money, and be training in an elite field that will allow me to bank once out of the military, but I understand that I am serving, not vacationing.

    Quote Originally Posted by erichlund View Post
    I do not wish to discourage you, but I do want you to go forward with a clear head. You have my support in whatever you decide is the best choice for you.

    Eric
    If I am discouraged by hearing the truth then the job would clearly not be meant for me. I see people getting discouraged from being a Nuke over at nukeworker.com all the time, and I am glad!

    BTW, I will shoot for getting my degree in the Nuclear field after training.
    Thomas Jefferson University from NJ accepts the ACE recommended hours and after my college hours are transfered I would need about 5-6 classes that would be available online.

    I do not need my degree to be an officer, the STA-21 program takes care of that. Seaman to Admiral allows me to go back to school, get my hours, and then come back to Officer Candidate School.
    Competition is tough, but I rather be optimistic than pessimistic.
    There is also the Baccalaureate Degree Completion Program, Limited Duty Officer selection, Nuclear Enlisted Commissioning Program, Enlisted Commissioning Program, or selected for Chief Warrant officer.

    Since getting my degree and just applying seems like the fastest and easiest solution I'll do that. But if not successful, I have researched my options.
    US Navy--Hooyah!

    Nikon D700/D300|17-35 f/2.8, 24-70 f/2.8, Sigmalux, 80-200 f/2.8, 16 f/2.8 fisheye,

    Lots of flashes and Honl gear.

  9. #9
    Join Date
    Aug 2004
    Location
    Northern Colorado, USA
    Posts
    2,225
    I'm glad you are going in with your eyes wide open. I'm sure you will do well. I suspect your previous time in the Army will serve you well, since you will better understand the expectations. Best of luck on your chosen career.
    Eric Lund
    Nikon D200
    Nikkors: 17-55mm f2.8, 18-200mm f3.5-f4.5 VR, 70-300mm f4.5-5.6 VR, 35mm f2, 50mm f1.8, 55mm f2.8 AI-S micro, 105mm f2.8 VR micro
    Other Lenses: Tokina 12-24 f4, Tamron 75-300mm f4-5.6 LD macro
    Stuff: Nikon SB800, Nikon MBD200, Gitzo 1327 Tripod w/RRS BH-55LR Ballhead, Sekonic L-358 meter

  10. #10
    Join Date
    Mar 2007
    Posts
    1,923
    Quote Originally Posted by TheObiJuan
    If I die, it's for my country, not a temporary leader.
    Great response, politics are far from the things that endure. And... I won't say any more on that subject.

    Best of luck to you in mapping your future!
    Nikon D40 + kit lens

    Nikkor 50mm f/1.8 D AF(...or not)

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