After twelve years of active duty service in the U.S. Army, beauty photographer Jennifer McIntyre has maintained strong ties to her military roots as she transitions into her next life chapter. Her work was project-driven from the start, taking shape through a series called “The Lost Year”, in which she took her first camera on a year-long deployment, aiming to capture moments for the families of those who were deployed alongside her. Military families know how difficult the time apart can be, and Jennifer sought to help fill that void with her photography.
Similarly, her current project addresses another need: the need to share the presence women create in the military. Jennifer noticed that representation of military women was sparse, though women in service were not. Being a proactive and driven person, she set out to change this by traveling the country on her own dime to visit military bases, set up studio equipment on location, and capture portraits of the tough and tenacious women who serve their country. Each beautifully lit portrait adds to the collective record the public has of the women of the United States military.
These are a few of the women she photographed, with snippets of their stories as told to Jennifer. Each has a full entry on Jennifer’s blog – click their name if you’d like to read more.
“I would like to be remembered for being a female refugee who has made strides and broke through barriers to attain a successful career despite being in a predominately male occupation. I want my legacy to be an impact for all Soldiers who face opportunity gaps and organizational barriers to strive to build a better future where everyone can be praised without judgment, and not to settle for what is given, but to reach for higher goals and aspirations.”
“I want to show that you may not know where you are going, or what you want, but you can always find satisfaction in putting in the effort to complete your goal at hand and you’ll ultimately find yourself exactly where you need to be.”
“With every new major I encountered I felt I had to go through this process of proving I was competent in what I was talking about. This carried through the deployment to Afghanistan where I was working with higher-ranking officers outside our organization. I was fortunate enough to have a few amazing female Majors take me under their wings and help me out. They schooled me where necessary, had my back when needed it and validated that I knew my stuff. I honestly hope that as I progress in my career that I have the opportunity to pay it forward in mentoring other junior officers. Those ladies greatly contributed to my choice of staying in the Army for at least a few more years.”
“I serve for many different reasons, all very important to me. I serve for my country: I love my country. I want to serve and defend and protect who she is. I serve to defend the flag and the history it represents. I serve to defend the people within my country, of all backgrounds and stories, we all live in this free country and I wish to serve them all.”
“I remember at my bar pinning ceremony when I commissioned as a Second Lieutenant, my father spoke about how proud he was that I was carrying on the family tradition. My grandfather served in the Korean War, and my father served in Viet Nam and Desert Storm – both as Military Police. My father talked about how this country gave our family, recent immigrants, everything, and it was such an honor to serve her. “
“Being in the Army has allowed me opportunities that I do not believe I would have gotten otherwise. I absolutely love being a Paralegal in the Army. I take great pride in being a Soldier and Non-Commissioned Officer (NCO). There is nothing more rewarding than taking a young, impressionable junior enlisted Soldier and equipping them with the tools they need, to not only excel in the military but also in life.”
“I serve for the sacrifice my grandmother made when she migrated to the United States. My grandmother came to the US by herself, while leaving her seven-year-old son back in El Salvador. She was a live-in nanny in San Francisco until she could afford to bring her son (my father) to the US. Being a new mother myself, I cannot imagine her pain and struggle. I was very close to quitting in my second year at West Point. My grandmother was sick and I felt completely helpless 3,000 miles away. She passed away later that year and my world crumbled. But it was through this immense pain that she also gave me strength to not only complete that school year at West Point, but also the strength, ambition, and passion to finish my time at West Point and give back to the country that gave so much to her, my parents, and now my children.”
CREDITS: All photographs by Jennifer McIntyre are copyrighted and have been used with permission for SLR Lounge. Do not copy, modify or re-post this article or images without express permission from SLR Lounge and the artist.