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The Women Of The U.S. Military | A Portrait Series Of The Underrepresented Pillars Of the Country

By Holly Roa on March 23rd 2017

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. Most have a full entry on Jennifer’s blog – click their name if you’d like to read more.

Master Sergeant Simmons

“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.”

1LT Amy Dodd

“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.”

CPT Holuta

“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.”

1LT Lauren Cross

“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.”

MAJ Spangler

“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. “

SSG Shekira Wills

“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.”

CPT (P) Tania Donovan

“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.”

You can see more from Jennifer McIntyre’s Military Women project at her website and on Instagram.

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.

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Seattle based photographer with a side of videography, specializing in work involving animals, but basically a Jill of all trades.
Instagram: @HJRphotos

Q&A Discussions

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  1. John Place

    This is my daughter in-law, she is a Marine assigned to Marine Aviation Logistics Squadron and worked on aviation ordinance.  This picture of her is in Iraq in 2007. She was one of the first female Marines in the Lioness Program. Her name is Andrea Place, (Olsen maiden name). We are proud to have her as a member of our family and my son Nick, (a Corpsman) is proud to have her by his side. 

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  2. Mary Torgusen

    Wonderful and thank you for your service and sacrifice.

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  3. David Szucs

    Well done Captain. My thanks for highlighting our sisters in arms. Pity you didn’t find an EOD soldier.  I served with and for many fine female soldiers. SFC Szucs, D. A. (Ret)

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  4. Laurie Bunko


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  5. Michelle Joers

    What stunning portraits!  I have very few pictures of myself from my time in the military…these are amazing.  Though, I’m with a previous commenter on wanting some USN and USMC representation (but, having been a corpsman, I admit to some bias).

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  6. Camille Brady

    Wow! As e retired Army Drill Sergeant, I cannot express how much I love these photos!! I often ended up being the photographer while working in the military and so many times wished someone could get more pics of me (you know, in the prime of my life when I didn’t mind seeing myself in pics).  I can totally appreciate these studio shots that are still candid. All of these women are gorgeous, but reading their words and hearing their feelings about the military and why they serve is absolutely heartwarming. I have so much pride in my country and anyone who chooses to serve. It was such an honor and the BEST decision I ever made for my life! Thank you for your beautiful and compassionate work! ❤??

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  7. Krystal Tzounakou

    Good, important work. As an active duty woman I appreciate the project. I would have loved to see some Navy and Marine Corps women represented in this spread. I’m kind of disappointed in that it feels like just half a story.

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    • Jennifer McIntyre

      hello! I do have a lot of Navy and one Marine on my blog. At the time of this, I was in the middle of editing my Tampa military women. Please see my blog! 

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  8. Patrick Oconnor

    I’m torn on these. I’m concerned that they’re almost too good, possibly giving the impression that women in the military are just eye candy. It might have been nice to include more photos showing dirty work. I don’t mean to replace these but in addition to, in order to give a more complete representation.

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    • Holly Roa

      Interesting take. Definitely not what I read into it. It’s pretty classic portraiture, and the women are quite clothed and generally posed in an empowering way. Since Jennifer is a beauty photographer, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had hair and makeup done, and of course retouching. Maybe that’s the element that is giving you that impression, that they look too perfect in your opinion? But what you’re wanting as a companion series may not be her style. Maybe you could do one? ;)

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    • Jennifer McIntyre

      I did think about going out in the field to take photos, however, that requires a lot more clearance from the Public Affairs Office as they must be able to approve the images you’re taking. I’m a studio photographer and I wanted my fellow military women to have a great portrait of themselves in their uniforms as most of the time, these women and men too forget that having a great portrait of their time in service is important. I want to create images that are heirlooms for families to pass on down to the next generation.  That’s my intent, but thanks for commenting. No doubt seeing them muddy and in the field would be exciting as well. 

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  9. David O’Fallon

    This us important work as we try to weave a more complete and truth  filled Americans story. Thank you!

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  10. Kenneth Aston

    Very nice 

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  11. Jim Duffin

    I have been following this photographer on Face book for a while now , her work is just outstanding, she is a master at lighting her subjects and bringing out the best in them.   Congratulations on the article!

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  12. Tonia Hesher

    Such a wonderful project! I enjoyed reading all these stories. Beautiful photography. 

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