Reconnecting with family and friends
Put a camera in their hands
Returning to your favorite hobby
A New Hobby
Join a photography community
A career opportunity
Creativity can be the best medicine
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You’ve done your duty, defended your country and now you must transition from military to civilian life…or a family member or friend is confronted with this major change. For some it is easy as putting on a different shirt; for others is often difficult, even traumatic. Those having trouble adjusting will find many governmental and community programs that will help…and they should be their first sources of support.
Photography can never be a substitute for the medical, psychological and emotional assistance many returning military personnel need, especially those injured or traumatized; but it does provide opportunities to make the transition easier…and 7 of those opportunities are explored in this article.
Family members and friends can add much to the “Welcome Home” by making sure all the happy reunions and celebrations are recorded in pictures and/or video. Returning military may have been away from home for a long time, so it’s likely there are no recent photos of them with family and friends. By creating new memories in pictures, military personnel have an immediate opportunity to reconnect with the people that matter most in their lives. Viewing and sharing those photos and videos during the days and weeks following their return will help to strengthen their bonds immediately with the family and old friends.
An even better method is for returning military to be the picture takers. Put a camera in their hands, even if it is only a smartphone or compact camera. The simple activity of taking pictures of their spouse, children, extended family members and friends brings them closer to the center of the family quickly. Photographing their children at play or just everyday family activities can prove to be therapeutic, as the new veterans have a purpose and immediate involvement in their family’s daily routine.
If photography was your hobby before your military service, then resuming it is another way to make the transition smoother. Initially, it may not be important what you shoot, but just exploring the world you knew and the changes that occurred while you were gone will be a positive influence. One of your first photography activities could be creating a list of new goals to improve your skills and/or scheduling some reading and research time to discover what’s new in photography: techniques, equipment and opportunities.
One of the toughest parts of transitioning from military to civilian life is suddenly facing days without the structure of military life. You have time on your hands and you’re not sure what to do with it. Making photography a new hobby will immediately provide you with many opportunities to fill those hours and days. Even at a basic level, photography is a relaxing and stimulating activity, and not unlike military duty, it requires your total concentration.
The best first step is to find a local photography club with members that are eager to guide beginner photographers. Not only will you receive excellent help to start your new hobby, but also you’ll be part of a group with a shared interest. Photography clubs offer group trips, seminars and opportunities to spend a few hours with another member on a shooting expedition, even if it’s just the local park.
Making photography your new hobby doesn’t necessarily require an expensive investment in new equipment. A club member may have an older, but perfectly good camera for learning purposes, that he or she will lend you or be willing to sell at a reasonable price.
Whether you’re an experienced photographer or someone new to the hobby, joining a photography community, such as PhotographyTalk, can be another anchor point as you transition from military life. Everyday, hundreds of thousands of people from around the world are active on the PhotographyTalk Forum, helping each other take the first steps into the world of photography or becoming better photographers. PhotographyTalk is also an excellent resource, with its thousands of articles, reviews and other content. You can find information for the beginner as well as the serious amateur who may want to become a freelancer or professional with a photography business.
As returning military, you may have interrupted your education or decided to serve your country before entering college or acquiring technical knowledge to start a career. Now, the world of possibilities is open to you and photography could be an excellent career choice. PhotographyTalk can be your portal to a photography education, with vendor/partners that offer online programs with certification or traditional four-year college degree programs.
Through your local photography club, you may find opportunities to serve as an intern to a local professional, so you can gain some first-hand knowledge about photography as a career before making a commitment.
Even if you decide photography is not your career path, there are many opportunities for it to become a source of supplemental income. You can work for many types of photography clientele without the need for years of experience or thousands of dollars in equipment. A six-month online course, for example, can prepare you to be a wedding photographer during weekends, a local high school sports photographer or events photographer for family gatherings, businesses, clubs, organizations and many other local groups.
Photography is a creative activity that fosters positive thoughts and helps to open the mind. For returning military, the opportunity to be creative can focus the mind on the wonders of life and the joy of living and could prove to be the best therapy and the most direct path to a renewal of civilian life.
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