Sergeant Si Longworth is one of 38 trained British Army photographers. He left a career in aviation to pursue his passion for photography; capturing everything that military life has to offer. He is currently in Afghanistan as the Task Force Helmand Photographer on Op HERRICK 18.
My name is Si Longworth and I am a professional photographer (yes, the Army has those). I am one of 38 photographers (photogs or phots) for the Army, covering media operations globally.
Although I have been making pictures in one form or another for little over 20 years, I have only recently joined the photography trade (Royal Logistic Corps) within the Army. I saw it as a calling to do something that I have always loved. I have been in the Army since seventeen and a half; dropping out of college to pursue a career in the Royal Military Police. Since then my career has seen many highs and lows.
I’d like to take you on a journey and invite you to join me as I describe how I got here and what it’s like to be a British Army photographer.
05 March 2015
Onwards and Upwards
Official Army blogger Si_Army_Phot continues his journey as a military photographer. Things ramped up at the end of last year, there was a promotion and the occasional ‘beasting’, but you ain’t seen nothing yet … Onwards and Upwards his 2015 exclusive starts here: http://bit.ly/1DU3qYq
“It was like being a kid in a sweet shop with virtually unlimited golden opportunities to capture the best of what the Army has to offer.”
10 June 2014
A brief pause for thought
“… I recently lost two military ‘brothers’ and it has profoundly affected me and the way I view certain things. I never expected to grieve quite the way that I am. Their lives have unexpectedly been cut short, and their families will never be the same; something I have given much thought to.”
28 February 2014
Hello again everyone. I welcome you all from somewhere over the South Atlantic Ocean. Normally I would know where I am, but this time I can only tell where I have come from and where I will end up.
13 February 2014
Time to switch bodies, perhaps
There it was on the shelf looking at me, as I looked back with my well-earned lawn-mowing business money in hand. A simple exchange later and I was the proud teenage owner of a second-hand Nikon F90X. I learned it, I loved it and I owned it for many years to come.
3 February 2014
A day without direction
But while I zoned out for 180-odd days and plunged myself into work, what, or who really suffered was my wife. Whereas before I would chat three or four times a week, (probably a lot on tour anyway) on this tour it was barely once. I was so consumed by my day to day routine that I forgot there was a routine happening back home that I was no longer part of.
1 October 2013
Never the twain shall meet: writer’s block comes into focus
The weeks passed, and as my six-month tour drew closer and closer to the end, the jobs started ramping up. Whether it be requests for photos I had taken or end of tour photographs for squadrons and regiments, it all added to long working days and long editing nights. There was no way I was going to have peace for long enough to write this blog. Even Captain Sophie Whitaker, who’s job required her to walk past my desk over 50 times a day, and who’s constant prompting about my blog couldn’t get me inspired.
The ‘gold standard’
“Captain G went through the diary of possible jobs that were coming up. It sounded promising. The next day we were out with the Brigade Operations Company. A group of guys I had been out with before. What was different this time was having somebody there to ‘direct’ what imagery they want. I am used to ‘freelancing’ it. I was curious to see how working with another team member would work out.”
21 July 2013
Taming the Afghan sun
When I dial up the ‘sunglasses’ effect to the maximum, allowing a lot less light into my lens, I have to reduce my shutter speed to compensate. At full whack I can easily achieve 1/250th of a second with a wide open aperture of f2.8. I am talking about the middle of the day, bright burning Afghan sun. The kind of sun that burnt the front of my body when I exposed it for the first time on my tour the other day for a mere eight minutes.
16 July 2013
Admittedly though, some subjects are harder to photograph than others and this is just a fact of life. I recently did a posed portrait of someone and shot 36 frames. Out of those 36, 4 of them were useable because they were a blinker.
30 June 2013
What’s in the bag?
You probably hear me banging on about dirt a lot out here. Sometimes it can be horrendous, and can be stuck out in it. If you get caught out with your kit in the open in one of these, you had better pray.
21 June 2013
Strap kit down, buckle-up, enjoy… the never ending ride (Pt3)
I know I keep saying it, but everywhere I visit, I find more feats of grit and endurance from our soldiers. In the blistering heat, wearing more protection than the average soldier due the risky nature of the job, the searchers painstakingly scour the environment looking for devices planted to do harm to anyone unfortunate enough to meet one under the wrong circumstances. It is a slow and demanding process, both mentally and physically.
13 June 2013
Strap kit down, buckle-up, enjoy… the never ending ride (Pt2)
In we rolled, parked up close and stretched our legs. I still laugh today as I recall watching a steady stream of people emerging from within the tightly woven vehicles in the general direction of the toilets, each person clutching a collection of bottles.
5 June 2013
Strap kit down, buckle-up, enjoy… the never ending ride (Pt1)
So it wasn’t just a big ging-gang-goolie out there in the desert. Everyone had a role. The ‘Tankies’ were providing a home and security for the Fusiliers, who were in turn providing security for the Royal Engineers who were doing what Engineers do best; building ‘stuff’. While they built, the Commander of Task Force Helmand popped-in for a visit with an Afghanistan counterpart. He always arrives in style.
10 May 2013
Road moves and ricochets
Being out with 32 Squadron for over 24 hours has smashed any misconception about what these extremely robust individuals do for a living. It is an unpleasant job due to the sheer time involved in moving tons of kit around a battlefield, all the time under threat and needing to be that little extra bit alert to your surroundings, when fatigue may well be knocking at your door.
2 May 2013
So, what have you been up to?
My travel to Afghanistan was documented from the outset. Admittedly, people sitting around on a plane or in airport lounges don’t make interesting pictures but never the less have to be documented as historical archive.
26 April 2013
As I wiped the sweat from my brow after lugging all the kit to the location, and made the picture, I sighed in relief that I had upheld my own adage. Overkill, some would say. But I say better to have it and not use it, than to have to excuse yourself, run back to the office (on this occasion) to get it, and look a fool.
19 April 2013
Military policeman, pilot, photographer…
I wasn’t always an Army photographer. I’ve had one amazing career, and photography is my third and latest trade. I have been tinkering with cameras for years, but it is only recently that I decided to finish up my army career as a ‘phot’. I had watched my best friend travel to amazing places and capture fantastic images, and I wanted to become part of that.
12 April 2013
‘Hello’, this is me
So here I am… Blogging… It’s a day I thought the world would never see, but nevertheless, here it is.