The Soldier with the Camera
Chris was a young father in the US Army when Jaquonne, called Jay by his friends, gave him a gift that changed his life. One day, when Chris was on leave and visiting Jay, his friend mentioned how much he had paid a photographer for a project. Chris had always been creative and wondered if he could start taking photographs professionally. Jay gave Chris an old Fujifilm camera, which he took back to his barracks – leading him to start experimenting and figuring out how to produce quality images.
“Before I picked up a camera, I didn’t know what photography could do.” Chris admits. “I still thought it was just nice pictures of people and things.” The old camera ignited his interest, but Chris wanted updated equipment, and realized he would need interchangeable lenses to help him achieve better results. So, he applied for a military credit card and went to the store on his base.
“I had just enough for the camera, a 50mm lens, an SD card, and a really small bag,” Chris recalls. He needed a way to pay off the credit card, so he started taking maternity shoots for military families. Before long, he wouldn’t go anywhere without his kit. People called him ‘The soldier with the camera.’
As his time in the army came to an end, Chris wasn’t sure what he would do next. He was considering either studying to be a dental hygienist, or going to school for photography. At that point, he was growing in his craft, inspired by the black-and-white work of photographers like Gordon Parks, Carrie Mae Weems, and William Eugene Smith. He followed his heart and chose art school.
“I felt it was a good thing for me to show my daughters. I can’t go around telling them, ‘You can be whatever you want to be. Try everything you can try,’ if I haven’t even attempted to do it myself.”