Military photographer has prime vantage point
U.S. Marine Corps veteran Staff Sgt. Cooper Evans was recently selected to join the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region, to cover the 57th Presidential Inaugural Jan. 21. | Provided
Personality: U.S. Marine Corps. Staff Sgt. Cooper Evans
Special Duty: Evans, an Evanston native, has been named to serve on the Joint Task Force-National Capital Region at the 57th Presidential Inauguration next Monday.
He’ll serve as a visual information specialist, in charge of coordinating video and photo coverage of the swearing-in ceremony.
Special Honors: Evan’s finely detailed photographs have been published in the Boston Globe and a variety of other websites, such as the the Defense Video and Imagery Distribution System run by the military.
We highlight some of his work on our website.
Updated: February 19, 2013 11:53AM
As a military photojournalist, U.S. Marine Corps Staff Sgt. Cooper Evans has spent time with troops in Afghanistan and Iraq. Sometimes under fire, “I didn’t know whether to reach for my camera or a rifle,’’ he said.
His photos have been published in the Boston Globe, picked up by news sites such as the Associated Press and splashed over Yahoo. One of his images was put on display at The National Museum of the Marine Corps in Triangle, Virginia.
Yet his biggest moment is coming up. Evans, 33, an Evanston native, was recently selected to join the Joint Task Force – National Capital Region, to cover the 57th Presidential Inaugural Jan. 21.
We caught up with the personable Evans in a telephone interview.
Q. How do you view this assignment, in relation to your career?
A. It’s probably going to be the biggest photo opportunity of my career. I’ll be able to capture images of (President Barack Obama) taking the oath of office. How many people can say they had a chance to capture that? It’s very special.”
Q. How did you become a photographer in the Marine Corps?
A. Well, actually I started out in the Marines as a mechanic. I was going to switch to graphics and I decided to do photography. I’ve been a photographer off and on for the past 11 years.
Q. How does a photographer in the Marine Corps differ from being one in civilian life?
A. I guess probably it’s the guaranteed pay. I think maybe some of the access you have — whereas a civilian photographer or an outside entity might have to know somebody or get credentials. A military photographer is right there.
Q. What is it like to be embedded with troops? Have you had any harrowing moments?
A. Sometimes it’s weird because you don’t know whether to pick up your camera or your rifle. Your first purpose is to be a Marine and then a photographer. I go on all the operations with them. I carry gear just like any Marine would. If anything happens I’m right there.”
Q. Are there favorite photos you took?
A. I had one photo hanging up in the Marine museum down in Triangle, Virginia. Then I had another photo of mine, of a firefight, that was picked up by A.P. (Associated Press). So the Marines I was embedded with in the operation they all came up to me after the operation and thanked me. It was on Yahoo and on a lot of different outlets.”
Q. What about your Evanston roots?
A. I grew up in Evanston, graduated from ETHS back in 1997. It was a nice place to grow up, a lot of parks. I remember as a little kid just riding my bike all over the place…going up to the Lake, hanging out with my friends – stuff like that.
Q. You decided to go into the military.
A. It was something I always thought about doing. My senior year, it was a tossup between joining the military and going to art school and I thought you can always go back to school. ‘I’ll just go ahead and do this and when my time is up I’ll go to college.’ I did my first four years as a mechanic. Then I had a chance to be a photographer, I stayed in and re-enlisted. Then I got a chance to be stationed in Hawaii so I re-enlisted again. The next thing you know you’re in 15 years.”
Q. What are some of the logistics shooting a big event like an Inaugural?
A. “It’s a joint command so it will have all five services there — Army, Navy, Air Force, Coast Guard and Marines. So it’s like a little kaleidoscope of the military. We’ll be working together on this, as far as gathering still and video footage.
Q. Biggest issue?
A. It’s just getting the imagery uploaded and released to the public. So that’s one of the big things we’re working on right now.
Q. What do you remember about past Inaugurals?
A. I remember in 2005 watching that one because I had just left Virginia to go to Hawaii. I was waiting for the movers to bring all my stuff from Virginia and I remember thinking it must be cold because I was in shorts and a tee-shirt in Hawaii?
Q. It can get pretty cold out there.
A. I’ve got Chicago blood in me, so I can handle it.