Photography and OPSEC

If you have any affiliation with the military, you may have heard about OPSEC, or Operational Security. This is usually the most relevant to friends and families of deployed service members, but it does stretch a bit more than people realize. 

If you look it up, you’ll discover it’s technically against OPSEC to post when service members get paid. While I think this is more than a little silly considering you can google this information, there are other parts to it that are a lot more important. Like not mentioning troop movement or location or posting some information on social media (i.e. Facebook!). Posting immediately after he left that he’s on his way to wherever (we all have a nickname for it whether it’s the land of sand, sandbox, etc) is telling troop movement. They now know when to look for troops coming into the area. Same with homecoming dates. I know you want to shout them to the rooftops and tell everyone your man (woman, child, friend, etc) is coming home. Don’t do it until he’s in your arms. Telling a few people over the phone is cool, but try to keep that number down…and make sure they understand OPSEC!

How does this relate to photography? A lot of photographers, like myself, specialize in military homecomings. This means you are expected to keep us as up to date with homecoming information as you can so we can take every step necessary (and a few unnecessary ones) to make sure we are there for your special moment. Make sure your photographer is versed in OPSEC. I’ve seen unit and dates posted in groups when looking for a back up photographer; I’ve seen people announcing on their public pages “only XX days until this family is reunited!” while sharing a photo from a previous session with that family. While this is normally great marketing, the consequences can be a bit more severe than a Facebook warning. Units have been delayed coming home as late as the runway because command heard about Facebook statuses saying when the service members were expected in. 

I’ve had the pleasure of sitting through OPSEC training about 6 or 7 times…not including the run down given at pre-deployment and return and reunion briefs.

The Doctor Seuss version is still my favorite! (Found online, author unknown).

I am Sam,
Sam I am.
Do you like OPSEC and ham?
I do not get it, Sam I am.
I do not get OPSEC and ham.
We must use it here and there, 
We must use it everywhere.
You CAN share it in a car,
But you CANNOT in a bar.
You CANNOT share it in a text.
You CANNOT share it at the NEX.
You CAN say it in your house.
But should NOT tell a random spouse.
You CAN say it in the shower.
But do NOT go sharing at happy hour.
DON’T make the Ombudsman sweat.
DON’T post it on the internet.
You CANNOT share it in a tweet.
That would not be very sweet.
Beware of Facebook and Myspace too.
It’s tempting to let your feelings through.
You Cannot tell it to a friend.
NOT even at the very end.
It is a privilege to know a date.
DON’T tell ANYONE or they may be late!
Oh, I get it, Sam I am.
Now I get OPSEC and ham!
I will not tell anyone.
I will keep hushed until they’re done!
I will not tell him or her.
I will not tell my dog with fur.
I will not tell my child’s teacher.
I will not tell any creature.
Thank you, THANK YOU, Sam I am.
Thank you for clearing up OPSEC and Ham!!!

Why you should be choosy when you choose your photographer!

I am very active on Facebook, particularly with “advertising” groups. A lot of the time, these posts will pop up in my newsfeed. I see a lot of the same “I’m looking for a reasonably priced photographer for _________” or “I want a great photographer, but don’t want to pay more than $50”.

I’m going to start with my own testimonial. About 3 years ago for our first anniversary, I was trying to come up with something to get for my husband. I stumbled across an ad for a boudoir photographer and thought “oh my goodness, this will be perfect!” My son was 8 weeks old at the time of my session. She came to my house, did my hair & make up and then we headed into my bedroom for the session. About a week later (she knew of my deadline) I received my pictures and my jaw dropped. They were amazing and worth every penny I spent on them. My husband was agog when he opened them, it was totally unexpected and I looked awesome. About 9 months later, I saw a different photographer offering a boudoir special if you let her use them. Thinking on my last experience, I jumped at the chance to do something special for my husband. She did not provide hair & make up, so I was left to my own devices. (If you know me, you KNOW this is not a good thing). I was disappointed in the shoot almost from the beginning; but I couldn’t put my finger on why. When I got my photos back, I cringed. They looked horrible! Honestly, I ended up throwing out the disc. Even my husband didn’t like them.

What’s the moral of this story? I spent a good amount of money to work with the first photographer and she was totally worth every penny. The second photographer was a lot cheaper so I “saved” money, but it was a total waste of my time and money.

Actual professionals pay taxes, have licenses, insurance, and spend a lot of money on gear, classes and other things throughout the year to make sure your photos look amazing. Being a photographer means being a lifetime student.

“Well, my friend has a nice camera and I’m just going to have her/him do them”. Go ahead. But don’t expect them to look the same as a professional’s images unless your friend happens to be a professional photographer. A camera is a tool. Over the years they have become a lot more use friendly with auto modes and some even have tutorials built into the camera. A camera is the device used to make an impression of a scene onto a sensor (or film). Just like a paintbrush, it’s the person using it using a combination of learned and natural skill that make art. And photos are art, whether it’s fine art or family portraits. Trust me, there is a lot more to a photo then pushing a button.

If you don’t know what to look for, there are tons of blogs dedicated to showing you what NOT to have done. There is one I’ve found that shows you what to look for in a portfolio and uses photos of dolls to explain. It’s called Take Off Your Mommy Goggles and I wholeheartedly recommend it when you’re searching for a photographer.

Please, take the time to look through a photographer’s portfolio and don’t just go with someone because of the number of likes on their photography page (you know you can BUY those?!) or because they’re cheap.


The winner, chosen by Rafflecopter, is Jessica Phippen!

Jessica has won a romantic couple’s session for her and her husband, Michael, when he returns from his deployment.

I’ve actually had the honor of working with them and their daughter, Harley, in the past and look forward for another opportunity to work with them! 

Congrats, Jess!

2,ooo Fan Giveaway!

I made a promise back in February that when my page reached 2,000 “likes” I would give away another session!
On Wednesday evening, it happened and the giveaway was announced.

I am giving away a romantic couple’s session. This includes about an hour of session time on location and edited images. Location is to be determined.

Must live in (or willing to travel to) the Jacksonville, North Carolina area OR Pensacola, Florida area.
You must “like” Ashley Rescott Photography on Facebook.

And that’s it! Pretty simple, right?
Here’s the link to enter for your chance to win!

Good luck!



Why hire a professional homecoming photographer?

couple reuniting after deployment couple reuniting after deployment wife walking toward her marine marine walking toward his wife marine and his wife reuniting There are many, many, many reasons. The biggest regret I have from last homecoming was that I didn’t hire someone. I quite honestly didn’t even think of it. I have cell phone pics of me, 42 weeks pregnant, in labor, about 5 minutes *after* we actually reunited. I would love to have photos that were clear, crisp and gorgeous.

There is no other feeling quite like it in the world, who wouldn’t want to remember it? You’ve spent the past seven months to a year missing him, this is the moment when you are finally back in his arms.

“I’ll just have my friends do it” I’ve heard this a lot. If your friend is a photographer, that’s cool. The benefit of hiring a professional who knows their equipment, has more than a pop up flash for that 2 am homecoming, or can counteract the harsh, harsh mid day shadows makes a huge difference. Plus, as someone recently pointed out to me, you’ll feel obligated to hang around your friends after when all you most likely wanna do is drag him by the hand and get home.

A photographer will be there for YOU. To get the images you are dying to see. I am perfectly happy shooting your homecoming at whatever time of day they come home. Dinnertime? Sounds good. Two am? Perfect!

When should you book your photographer? That depends. Do you have someone specific in mind? Book as soon as you can. Multiple reasons. The most important being that you book them before someone else does. The other is to “lock in” pricing. Many photographers raise their prices slowly over time; the sooner you book there is a potential for saving some money.

Welcome to my Blog

I am starting a blog in addition to my website. In addition to a more varied portfolio, I will be posting more information about what to expect when it comes time for your session and the whole process! Here is a great shot of mine that made the cover of Military Spouse Magazine’s April edition.

My photo on the cover of Military Spouse Magazine