Have you ever wondered how the Canadian Armed Forces document missions, deployments and training exercises across the globe? Combat Camera is responsible for capturing moments that are not accessible by civilian media, and sharing a glimpse of the Canadian Forces life for loved-ones and Canadians back home.
Combat Camera is a team of 12 imagery technicians and three public affairs officers stationed in Ottawa, Ontario. On a rotating basis, they are deployed based on the skill set required for each mission.
LCdr Brian Owens, Officer in Command, Canadian Forces Combat Camera says they have the ability to go anywhere the CAF operates due to in-depth training and qualifications they receive.
“The training that the technicians here receive when they join Combat Camera allow them to fly an aircraft, we have diving qualified technicians, they can go to sea, they can do the hardcore army field operations,” says Owens. “That was our intent from the get-go to make sure we would be able to capture people, instead of only being able to in certain circumstances.”
Although it’s a CAF occupation, many Combat Camera and imagery technicians are extremely passionate about photography both professionally and at home in their civilian lives.
Owens says that many of the team members own better photography gear than Combat Camera has because of their love for the trade and the art of capturing imagery. The trade also gives them the opportunity to see different parts of the world that many people would never be afforded the opportunity in other circumstances or other photography careers around the world.
“Our imagery technicians are the most skilled technicians in the country when it comes to Canadian Forces Imagery Technicians. In the profession as a whole, both civilian and military, I would put our guys against anyone out there.”
During the run of a year, members of Combat Camera can go to several operations around the world. Usually lasting only two to three weeks, they are still required to be aware of the threats and situational hardships, whether that be environmental or against an adversary in a foreign country depending on their location they are exposed to those elements.
While Combat Camera members are capturing first hand the people and events of the CAF, Senior Photo Editor, Sandra Pagliarello publishes up to 5,000 photos taken by Combat Camera as well as image technicians from bases and ships across the country. Pagliarello then narrows down the photos to the “Best of” using different photography criteria.
“‘The Best Of’ is meant to be a quick snapshot of what happened over the past year. It’s made for the audience to kind of quickly go through and see what we’ve been up to for the last year. If they want to do further searches in our database they can actually go in and do a more composite photo search of what they are looking for,” says Pagliarello. “What I’m looking for in choosing these photos is, of course, the technical execution of these photos in terms of proper lighting, exposure, focus, the composition is a big part of it, along with creativity and just the visual impact of the photo. Those are the ones that make it in the gallery.”
Owens says the most rewarding part of Combat Camera is the ability to show Canadians what is actually happening overseas. They use both still imagery and video to share with the public and to also allow people to better understand what is going on with their loved ones who may be deployed.
“They now have the first-hand knowledge of seeing their loved ones in their combats or at sea or underwater, and it gives a really unique view and lens onto what goes on. Being that bridge between the operation and the civilian community, I think it’s a very rewarding opportunity and it’s very challenging,” says Pagliarello.
Combat Camera is currently working on releasing a new series called “Mali Mondays.” The series is a group of individual interviews and videos on specific members of the Mali missions that talk about being a door gunner, a pilot in a Chinook, to being the medical staff in the back end of a Chinook during a medevac in Mali. This new initiative is going to bring information to Canadians in a multimedia platform, hearing from the members who are deployed and working in these operations.
Click here to see the Best of 2018 in its entirety.
To watch the “Mali Mondays” series which will be launching soon, click here to visit.