Senior to Enlist as Combat Camera Post-Graduation


Picture courtesy of James "Gib" Stanfield.

Stanfield (pictured) plans to enlist in the Marine Corps as a combat camera.

Oliver Hurst, Staff writer

Unlike many Chamblee Charter High School seniors, James “Gib” Stanfield has decided to enlist in the United States Marine Corps as a combat camera.

“The actual title is combat camera, that’s the designation, but I will be doing basically all of the photography,” said Stanfield. “It is not only in combat.”

According to Stanfield, he will mainly be doing three different things.

“So there are kind of three wings of it” said Stanfield. “There is the on-base sort of thing, all those pictures that you see of people standing in front of the American flag, like just the portraits. I would be doing stuff from planes and a lot of like reconnaissance stuff. And then the other one would be embedding with a certain unit and just covering them in the field.”

He first got into photography from making videos as a child.

“When I was younger, I liked to make videos, and I was like, ‘This is a cool thing that I enjoy,’” said Stanfield. “But [videos] are a lot of work, so I just started taking pictures while I was making videos. Then I realized ‘Whoa this is way easier and just as cool.’ And so I just chose the easier route.”

Stanfield set his sights on the Armed Forces once he realized that college did not seem like the right fit for him now.

“I kind of decided that college was not the route that I wanted to pursue right away. Down the line, I want to be doing photojournalism, and there’s no straight path to that. I could go get a degree with a focus on photojournalism, but that requires a lot of stuff that I do not want to do,” said Stanfield. “Another route is just getting four years of training and experience while going somewhere else and doing something that I think is really cool.”

To find out more about what it meant to be a combat camera, Stanfield explored all over the internet and then spoke with a recruiter.

“There actually is not a ton of information online about it,” said Stanfield. “So I got on Reddit and I just started posting in the Marine groups. And I was like, ‘Hey, is there anyone who has done this who knows how this works? Can I talk to you about it?’ I found some really good guys who walked me through the whole process. And then I went to a recruiter; he walked me through the process again, and now I will be signing a contract once I graduate.”

Originally, Stanfield had the United States Navy in mind when he decided to become a combat photographer.

“When I first talked to my dad about it, he said, ‘I would feel best if you went into the Navy.’ And that was kind of my aspect as well. [The Navy] seems like it would be a good mixture of  travel and adventure and everything, but it still would not be too crazy, but they actually disbanded [their combat camera program] three years ago,” said Stanfield.

That is when Stanfield turned his attention to the Marine Corps.

I started looking at the other [Armed Forces]. [The] Air Force seemed a little bit too tame for me; I did not want to be doing a bunch of boring on-the-base kind of stuff,” said Stanfield. “So then it was just kind of a toss up, and I decided [on the] Marines.”

For Stanfield, the response to deciding to become a combat camera has been overwhelmingly positive.

“The fact that I have probably talked to like 100 people about [joining the Marines] at this point and have not heard a single bit of negativity has been the biggest thing. Definitely,” said Stanfield.