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Military Photographers exhibit
DAYTON, Ohio - "On the Other Side of the Lens...Military Photographers in Action" exhibit in the Hall of Honor at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force. (U.S. Air Force photo by Ben Strasser)
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Air Force, military photographers recognized with special exhibit at the museum

Posted 5/2/2008   Updated 5/2/2008 Email story   Print story


by Sarah Parke
National Museum of the U.S. Air Force

5/2/2008 - DAYTON, Ohio -- Several Air Force photographers recently found themselves in an unfamiliar position: in front of the cameras. During an exhibit opening for "On the Other Side of the Lens...Military Photographers in Action" at the National Museum of the U.S. Air Force, photographers whose work is featured in the exhibit were invited as special guests to attend the opening.

"This is strange," said Master Sgt. Jim Varhegyi, one of five Air Force photographers in attendance. "We're usually the ones taking photos and asking the questions."

The exhibit is now open to the public and features 56 photos depicting the talent of Air Force and Joint Operations photojournalists, with significant contributions provided by Air Force News. In addition to the photos, a multimedia presentation and graphic banners accompany the exhibit. More than 30 photographers are represented.

"Our job is to put the face of the airmen out there," said Staff Sgt. Julie Weckerlein, an Air Force photojournalist whose photos are also featured in the exhibit. Both she and Varhegyi deployed together to Afghanistan in 2007. One of their objectives while overseas was to show, through photos, that the Air Force was in the fight and contributing to the War on Terror.

"Of course, access is the key to getting the shot," said Varhegyi. "Thinking as a team and working together to get ourselves in a good position is important."

Now, the important work of Air Force News and Air Force photojournalists will be displayed to a national audience. More than one million people visit the Air Force's national museum each year and they will have the opportunity to see the work of airmen by airmen.

"This is the first time outside of our own community where our folks have been recognized," said Col. Clifton Douglas, commander of Air Force News operations. "I encourage everyone to come out and see it. It's really great."

"A lot of people do not realize the type of work and sacrifice that go in to getting these photos." Douglas went on to say. "The difference between a good image and an exceptional image is one that is accurately captioned and archived. Our first course of action is to document."

In a way, the museum's mission and an Air Force photographer's mission are similar. The museum stands as a memorial to the legacy and sacrifices of Air Force servicemen and women past, present and future, and the motto is to be the keepers of their stories.

In the same manner, Douglas said the men and women who take these photos are the caretakers of our own legacy.

As Master Sgt. Cecilio Ricardo, another Air Force photojournalist whose work is featured, said of his photos, "I have the opportunity to tell their stories."

From Iraq and Afghanistan, to military training exercises on bases throughout the United States and support missions for events such as Hurricane Katrina, each photo provides a permanent record for senior military leaders and historians. They give the public a glimpse into military life at home and abroad.

"It's awesome that the museum can showcase our work, especially current operations," said photojournalist Senior Airman Chad Kellum. "Our job is usually behind the scenes."

Appropriately, part of a quote by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Aaron Ansarov, included on the exhibit's front panel, sums up the idea behind the entire exhibit, "We are the men and women who go through great risks to get the shot. We extraordinary videographers and photojournalists train with the best, operate in the worst and get noticed the least. Our mission is to be there when history happens. Ever notice that photo or video clip in the news, book or documentary? Well, someone had to be there. Someone had to get the shot. Someone had to tell the story. We are that someone."

"On the Other Side of the Lens...Military Photographers in Action" will be displayed through December 2008. For more information, visit or call (937) 255-3286.

The National Museum of the United States Air Force is located on Springfield Street, six miles northeast of downtown Dayton. It is open 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. seven days a week (closed Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's Day). Admission and parking are free.

NOTE TO PUBLIC: For more information, contact the National Museum of the United States Air Force at (937) 255-3286, ext. 302.

NOTE TO MEDIA: For more information, contact Sarah Parke at the National Museum of the United States Air Force Public Affairs Division at (937) 255-1376.

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