Sailor Training

Just back in from a training workshop for the Mass Communicators on board the USS Carl Vinson. (“Mass Communicators” is the new designation for photo mates and other journalists in the Navy. Even the military is accepting convergence.)

One of the public affairs officers for the ship is a friend of mine and he asked me to come up and present a series of talks on photojournalism, page design and what all this “new media” stuff means. Additionally, five members of his staff were included in some hands-on editing and storyboarding sessions. 

Aside from my friend overseeing this department, I was very, very interested in getting aboard CVN70 – I mean, how often do you get to walk the deck of an aircraft carrier? 

Of course, not everything goes to plan … the Carl Vinson is in the Northrup Grumman shipyard for an overhaul. (Between time in the yard and the shakedown cruises, the ship will be, effectively, out of service for more than seven years. Think about that.) And because it’s in the yard, the public affairs office is located on shore. And while I did get on the ship, I wasn’t allowed to bring a camera on board because the ship is still mostly apart … wires everywhere, lots of unfinished spaces. Six thousand workers a day flood the ship.

The training went well. The talks were recommended but not required and each was standing room only. We talked about the First Amendment implications for journalists, our Constitutional responsibilities, thinking beyond the the single image, visual hierarchy (LOTS on visual hierarchy) and how the Internet is expanding our story telling ability.

Three of the five sailors were working on still stories, two on video pieces. They ranged from a lot of experience to a lot of experience in the past to some just starting out. All had the right attitude, and I’m not sure if that’s the military way (I’ve never been called “sir” so often) or if they were just very interested in growing their craft. Regardless, the growth was really good. Everything we talked about in early edits showed up in the final shoots. 

To wrap up the workshop, the captain of the ship was invited to come see the work. As a civilian (who works in a department with a recognized but loose chain of command), watching everyone scramble as The Captain’s Appearance grew closer was entertaining. Again, while I recognize the military’s need for formality, the captain was just a regular guy. He sat through all five stories as the sailors and I explained the learning process, then got up and talked with his crew. A very open guy, talked about the importance of training and then took questions about the future of the ship. 

That captain gets the importance of training. 

All that said, I have no photos from on the ship. Which is nearly a crime. But I shot some stuff around the hotel they put me in, playing with light, color and graphics …

Canon G9, 44 mm, ISO 80, 1/1250, f/4.8

Just outside the lobby door’s of the Westin in Virginia Beach, looking back on the “town center.”

Canon G9, 44 mm, ISO 80, 1/400, f/4.8

Sun sets to the west.

Canon G9, 44 mm, ISO 80, 1/160, f/8.0

All of the “town center” area has been built in the last few years. Still, nature perseveres. 

Canon G9, 7 mm, ISO 200, 1/50, f/2.8

The Westin is one of the nicest-designed hotels I’ve ever been in, and I even had a corner room (1211). 

Canon G9, 7 mm, ISO 200, 1/15, f/2.8

The irony of the braille being on the sign isn’t shown – there was a table just below this, which would prevent anyone in a wheelchair from getting to the braille. 

Canon G9, 7 mm, ISO 80, 5 seconds, f/4.0

On my last night in Virginia, we headed to a neighborhood in Norfolk for dinner. Did a little walk-about afterwards and made this frame.