Special photographers capture images of special flights The Blue Angels perform over Boston, MA. An elite group of Navy and Marine photographers are selected each year to travel the world with the U.S. Navy Blue Angels flight demonstration team. (Terrence Siren/U.S. Navy via AP)
Special photographers capture images of special flights
Lexile

Fighter jet pilot Ryan Chamberlain has flown in war zones.  He has logged more than 300 landings on aircraft carriers.  And he has thrilled millions since 2013 with breathtaking maneuvers as part of the Navy's elite Blue Angels demonstration squadron.
 
But Lt. Chamberlain says his career's most memorable moment came after he took detailed instructions from the petty officer riding in the backseat of his F-18 Hornet.
 
Chamberlain and Navy photographer Terrence Siren flew over New York City with the Blue Angels in 2013.  Siren captured an iconic image.  It was of the blue and yellow jets streaking past One World Trade Center tower.
 
"I will always look back at that image. It captures what we do, what we are about," Chamberlain said.
 
Siren is an accomplished combat photographer.  He will finish his tour of duty with the team in November. The New Orleans native is one of five photographers, all petty officers, assigned to the Blue Angels for three-year stints.  Their job is to capture images of the six-fighter jet team.
 
Siren said it took time for him to feel confident enough to make suggestions to the world's best pilots.  That is despite having been a photographer for the Navy Seals and making various tours as a combat photographer.
 
"At first, I was thinking 'There is another plane 6 inches from my head. I'm not going to talk to this guy,'" he said. "But during photo shoots, there is a constant communication going on because I cannot move the plane and he cannot move the camera."
 
During demonstrations, the team reaches speeds of 700 mph.  The pilots and photographers can experience 7.5 times normal gravity during spins, turns and other maneuvers. The g-forces make a 10-pound camera feel like 75 pounds.
 
Blue Angels do not wear G-suits, which are designed to keep someone from passing out by pushing the blood toward the head using inflatable bladders in the legs. The team's tight formations, sometimes just inches apart, require careful control of the flight stick.  The suit bladders could interfere with that. The photographers also fly without G-suits and must learn breathing techniques and stay physically fit to avoid passing out.
 
"It is like trying to take photographs while riding a roller coaster - a roller coaster on steroids," said Katy Holm of Naples, Florida, another team photographer.
 
The Thunderbirds, the Air Force's aerial demonstration team, have a similar program for Air Force photographers to fly with the team. Based at Nellis Air Force Base, Nevada, the team flies six F-16Cs and two F-16Ds. The location of the flight stick does allow Thunderbird pilots and photographers to wear G-suits.
 
Navy photographer Andrea Perez of Inner Grove Heights, Minnesota, has passed out and thrown up while riding in the back of the Blue Angels' jets.
 
"It helps to be focused on the lens and not worried about what is going on outside - whether the ground is above your head or whether you are spinning in circles," she said.
 
After a ride in the jet, Perez said she feels drained. But the exertion is worth it when she reviews her photographs of the team flying wingtip to wingtip in tight formations.
 
"You have a viewpoint that no other photographer is going to have," she said. "It's pretty amazing."

Filed Under:  
Assigned 24 times
CRITICAL THINKING QUESTION
Why is photography important to the Blue Angels?
Write your answers in the comments section below


COMMENTS (41)
  • brianag-6-bar
    11/19/2015 - 10:54 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because they think it is important to get pictures of the jets for the memory of the people that are fighting for our country and as a way to show people the represenation and bravery it takes. This is a quote from the article that states why they do what they do,"I will always look back at that image. It captures what we do, what we are about,". I chose this article because when I am older I want to be a photograhper and I also wanted to learn more about how people captures images of these jets.

  • jacks-6-bar
    11/20/2015 - 12:56 a.m.

    Photography is quite important to the Blue Angels. In the article, Lt. Chamberlain states that "I will always look back at that image. It captures what we do, what we are about." The fact that Chamberlain will always look back at the photos illustrates just how much they are relevant. The photos, he claims, captures what the Blue Angels do--to protect our country. It probably establishes self-esteem for the Blue Angels, finally showing the world how they patriotic are and supportive of their country, going into speedy stunt planes without G-suits. The sheer feeling of looking at the pictures of the Blue Angles screeching across the World Trade Center that Terrence Siren took inspires patriotism and freedom, what the Blue Angels support. By looking back at the photos, the Blue Angels could feel proud that they had photos captured of them preforming these positive, heroic things. This surging feeling of self-esteem could be gratitude for them, gratitude for all that they've done. That's why the photography of the Blue Angels is so important to them.
    The article was quite moving, seeing how committed photographers are to show what those who serve are doing. Even though they risk throwing up or passing out (and Navy photographer Andrea Perez experienced both of them), still decide to show the world the amazing things veterans do for our country.

  • maxwellc-3-bar
    11/20/2015 - 02:00 a.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because as a photographer stated, "It captures what we do, what we are about." The Angels are a demonstration team and they do stunts and drills no one can compare to. They want their hard work recognized and they do this by taking pictures. I would love to have a picture of every time I did something cool and these people get that.

  • lilyr-4-bar
    11/20/2015 - 03:13 a.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because it is very hard to get photos of planes in the air, and these photos will go down in history. This is shown where it says, "'You have a viewpoint that no other photographer is going to have,'" I found this article interesting and surprising because I didn't know taking pictures of planes was so difficult.

  • karliw-1-bar
    11/20/2015 - 10:08 a.m.

    For the Blue Angels, the Navy's elite demonstration squadron of fighter jets, they hold a huge responsibility between the Navy and the Marines. The general purpose of the Blue Angels is to show the pride and professional skill to the U.S.A and other countries. With their blue and canary yellow F-18 Hornets streaking across the sky at top speeds of about 700 mph, it is no surprise that only the most skilled and elite fighter pilots are chosen for the job. But, of course, the pilots are not the only ones important to this special naval program. One of the other most important jobs to the Blue Angels is their combat photographers. These daring photographers climb in the back of an F-18 Hornet and take photos of the whole entire team in formation and as one consecutive unit. One special photo, taken by Terrence Siren, a extremely accomplished combat photographer, was taken over New York City in a very memorable spot; The World Trade Center.
    "I will always look back at that image. It captures what we do, what we are about," Lieutenant Ryan Chamberlain said. And if even a Lieutenant like Chamberlain can agree with that, then you've got yourself a very special photograph, especially if it's important to non other than the Blue Angels.

  • justiny-2-bar
    11/20/2015 - 10:15 a.m.

    Photography is so important to the Blue Angels because they need to use the photo as demonstration to the rest of the pilots. One thing that surprised me was that they were not allowed to were G-suits.

  • zackd-ver
    11/25/2015 - 12:25 a.m.

    This seems like a very dangerous situation, I'd definitely not want to be in one of those planes, overall though, the picture does look great and I would definitely be interested in something If the front picture looked like that.

  • taylorl-3-bar
    11/30/2015 - 12:13 p.m.

    This is important because to get pics of the jets for the memory of the people that are fighting for our country and as a way to show people the representation and bravery it takes. This is a quote from the article that states why they do what we do.

  • lukeh-orv
    11/30/2015 - 01:23 p.m.

    Photography is important to the Blue Angels because they think it is important to get pictures of the jets for the memory of the people that are fighting for our country and as a way to show people the representation and bravery it takes. This is a quote from the article that states why they do what they do,"I will always look back at that image. It captures what we do, what we are about,". I chose this article because when I am older I want to be a photographer and I also wanted to learn more about how people captures images of these jets.

  • noahi-fel
    12/07/2015 - 02:28 p.m.

    Because they want memory of fighting for there country

Take the Quiz Leave a comment
ADVERTISEMENT