Navy Photo School, NAS Pensacola, Florida (circa 1959-60)
RA5C Vigilante in Front of Photo School--contributed by Bill Newby
The above color photo was shot in the early/mid 80's. The RA5C did not arrive until the fall of 78.
I grew up as a kid very close to that school. I crawled all over that Vigi opening up all the access panels and such.
My dad was a Vigi pilot based in Pensacola. He flew the T-39 at NAS Pensacola after they decommissioned the Vig. ---Sean Mullaly
[Webmaster's Note: Unfortunately, the Navy no longer has a photo school, like Building 1500. A decade or more ago, Navy photographers became trained at a joint-services "Media Training" facility in Virginia (for more information, click on: Defense Information School )(no more photomates but "media specialists." An end of an era for those of us who have many memories (see below): --Ken Jack, PH2]
Updated June 29, 2018
(1/20/14):Navy celebrates the 100th Anniversary of
NAS Pensacola and the Navy Photo School
Renamed W. L. Richardson Building
Photo taken by a four-prop drone via Bill Newby PHCM. Click to enlarge
Introduction: Although the photographer rating had yet to exist in the Navy, Walter Leroy Richardson was doing the job, documenting aerial and ship maneuvers, crew movement and daily operations. Recognizing the value and necessity of documenting and creating a visual history of its activities, the Navy asked him to do it officially.
While just a photo hobbyist at the time, Richardson seized the opportunity. However, documenting the Navy's history was more work than one man could handle. So the Navy charged Richardson with creating the first Naval School of Photography. Pensacola would become known as the birthplace of naval photography, and Richardson the "Father of Naval Photography and Naval Aerial Photographers."
World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam, Desert Storm, Iraq and Afghanistan - Navy photographers were there. In disasters like Hurricane Katrina, the Indonesian tsunami in 2004, the Fukishima earthquake and tsunami in 2011, Navy photographers were there, capturing imagery and telling those stories to the world.
Even in our modern era of Instagram and "selfies," where everyone with a cellphone is a self-proclaimed "photographer," there remains a dedicated group of Navy professionals armed with the right tools to expertly preserve Navy history for generations to come.
For 100 years men and women have spent their lives visually telling the Navy's story. Now we tell theirs.
- EXTERNAL NEWS ARTICLE (1/20/14): Click to see: Navy Celebrates NAS Pensacola 100th--One-hundred year History of NAS Pensacola
- EXTERNAL VIDEO (1/20/14): Navy Photographers Remember Photo School--Veteran photomates recal their memories and the start of a museum at Building 1500
Lt. Walter Richardson
First Navy Photographer---1914
EXTERNAL LINK: (1/20/14): The Story of the First Naval Photographer
- EXTERNAL LINK (2/19/14) An interesting photo collage: Naval Photography---Contributed by Bill Newby
ON YOUR NEXT VISIT TO NAS PENSACOLA VISIT THE PHOTO SCHOOL
See below for the security information
Building 1500 at NAS Pensacola has been taken over by NAS and it will be the CO's office and Admin.
On your next visit, ignore the red signs and should anyone question you, just say you are visiting the CO's headquarters. The signs were installed to discourage civilian visitors to the museum from roaming with no purpose. We are not a high security base.
The CO has given the Periscope room to the photomates in the area to use as a Museum of Naval Photography. Display cases have been found and moved into the Periscope Room (see below). There have been several items already donated or loaned for the display, i.e. old Navy cameras and paraphernalia. Photos contributed by Bill Newby PHCM and Bob Devore PHC (retired)
Volunteers: (L-R)John Starkey, Jim Russell, Art Giberson, Jeri Jallite, and Bob Devore. Note periscope on the left.
Volunteers: Display of old aerial cameras.
Periscope and photo memorabilia display case at the new museum.
This space reserved for photomates'
Memories of Pensacola's Photo School
Motion Picture Camera Class of August, 1947--via Edward Newman PHC (second from left back row) collection
(6/4/13) [Webmaster's Note: We did have Navy Wave photo students and one from a class two ahead of mine, Marcia Weeks, found our site and contributed the following:]
My name is Marcia Martin Weeks. I and 10 other Navy Woman attended Pensacola photo A school in the spring of 1959. Our Barracks were Beautiful when we were there. I tried to find the school in 1977 when I took my son to Florida but no luck. I foound the base but couldn't get through the gate. It is amazing I kept these pictures for 54 years. All on an external hard drive and digital. You can see the barracks were in a lot better shape.
(L-R): Women's barracks NAS Pensacola; "Lyeth" and the "box" for our camera equipment; darkroom at photo school
Photos by Marcia Weeks. Click photo to enlarge.
(L-R):Student photo exercise (Johnson, Marcia (Martin) Weeks, Kirkcof); The most photographed building in Florida: Building 1500; Johnson, Ube, Kirkcof
I'm glad to know the school is still standing. Most of my photos were ruined in my basement when my sewer backed up from rain in 1975. After I left Pensacola on May 1st of 1959 I went to San Diego Naval Training Center. My first job was taking Recruits ID pictures. Later all publicity pictures and working in the photo lab. Of course we were ground photographers then. I was on a three year enlistment and got out in August of '61 to attend college. I've always had good memories of Pensacola. I don't know if the guys had a curfew or not but the women did. We had to be in our beds by 11:00 and they did a bed check.--Marcia Weeks [Webmaster: We did! Remember young, fresh faces like these?]
(6/29/18)Walk to Barracks--via Facebook group "Navy Photographers (Joe Trevino)."
After the austere experience---some would say terror, of boot camp---I found my way to NAS Pensacola in October 1959 to begin my Navy photographic training at Photo "A" School. What a relief---it was why I joined the Navy---finally, on my way to becoming a Navy photographer!
However, Navy photo school wasn't ready for me and I had to wait for the next available class. In the interim, came mess hall duty, or should I call it slave labor, for the NavCads---a lesson in humility. Then finally school began, starting with a predawn walk to the chow hall and the formation marches through the Florida moss-draped tree groves and officer-country housing to Building 1500, a somewhat fortress looking building that smelled of photo chemicals as you entered.
After a day of class and photography, we walked back to the (should have been condemmed) barracks, with its polished decks that you could see yourself in. We weren't free of boot camp regimentation yet: lonely night-watch duty and the always tense room inspections. But it still is a good memory. In fact, whenever I hear the music "A Summer Place" (popular movie back then) I have a flashback to those days.
As we progressed, we got to the chapter on aerial photography, and the equipment for jet photo planes. I remember the instructor saying, "You have to study this, but don't worry about it, none of you will ever use this information." Well, upon graduation, a large group of the class went to VAP-62 (heavy photo squadron) and I went with an equally large group to VFP-62 (Light Photo Squadron). Those of us so-assigned were generally disgruntled and depressed; we were supposed to take the pictures, not clean camera bay windows on photo-jets! Yet, looking back, I realize that fate had given me a great opportunity that few photomates would ever be given: to be part of a standout naval aviation squadron famous for its role in the Cuban Missile Crisis, working with superior camera equipment and the awesome RF-8A Crusader, as well as the excitement of working on carrier flight decks with a special group of enlisted men and officers.
Two years later I was sent back to Photo "B' School, to learn the electronics of the RF-8A photo systems. This time I had civilian clothes, a car, and a crow with two chevrons on my sleave. Life was good!!--Ken Jack, PH2
- (1/24/14) Click Photos to Enlarge
I was a student at the school from Jan 1st until Good Friday in March 1958. Our class also had Waves in it. And to keep the sailors in order it also had officers. Only two things do I remember 1. some guy in ship company barracks who wanted a section 8 shot up the place. No one hurt. 2. Was the winter strom that dropped 6" of snow on the beach. Wow I got to put one foot in the gulf and one foot in the snow. This was a very warm winter in Florida. After school I was stationed at NAS Oceana, master jet base and NWS Yortown, mine depot. Got out a PH2. Went on to teach Photography in Southern California at the high school and junior college level for 10 years. Picture #3: L-R: Dick Somer, Sam Webb, ??? ---Contributed by: Dick Somer
[Webmaster's Note: The "jumping over camera box" assignment was to capture action with a Speed Graphic camera.]
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Created on ... May 01, 2012