Jeremy Lock: The Chuck Norris of Military Photography


Every year since 1960, the government has held a Military Photographer of the Year competition to highlight the best images created by photographers in uniform. US Air Force Master Sergeant Jeremy “JT” Lock has won the award a staggering seven times. No other military photographer has come close to that.

Lock is an editorial photojournalist who has opportunities and training that most war photographers don’t enjoy. For example, he’s specially trained to shoot on land, from the air, and under the sea. His job has taken him to 40 countries on 6 continents.

While some conflict photographers are beginning to learn certain things that are useful for battlefields (e.g. life saving techniques), Lock is equally comfortable with both a gun and a camera in the thick of battles. He has even earned himself a Bronze Star, which is awarded for acts of heroism in a combat zone.

His career started 21 years ago when he was given darkroom tech responsibilities as an Air Force airman. From that lowly position, he worked his way up to the role of active military photographer, and began collecting accolades along the way. His photographs have been featured worldwide in publications that include National Geographic, Time Magazine, and the New York Times.

Here’s a selection of Lock’s photographs:


Military Photographer of the Year 2013

Iraqi Freedom




Joint team conducts drop zone survey



Enduring Freedom

Reserve Snapshot


Eyes On



When Lock won the Military Photographer of the Year prize last year for the sixth time, CBS made this feature on his life and work:

When he won it earlier this year for the seventh time, the Washington Times aired this feature:

A couple interesting quotes by Lock: “To truly capture war is to capture it in the soldier’s face next to you,” and, “You’re only as good as the last photo you’ve taken.”

You can find more of Lock’s work — including many non-military photographs — over on his website.

Thanks for sending in the tip, Christian!

Image credits: Photographs by US Air Force/Jeremy Lock and used with permission

  • Mike

    More of this awesomeness, less about sportsmen picking up cameras.

  • Derrick Lytle

    This guy is awesome.

  • ennuipoet

    I signed up for the Air Force to do this job, the way the cards fell I didn’t get it, I wound up being an AF cop, which had it’s rewards but I always wondered what might have been.

  • Che

    +1 to that sentiment!

  • Tor Ivan Boine

    where´s the google+ share button?

  • Yoav

    Great work! although i can only wish this kind of photographers to be out of job ;-)

  • junyo

    Chuck Norris? Also USAF. Coincidence? I think not.

  • The all mighty one

    Wow, I wish I could be as good as him one day

  • Jono R

    Fantastic images, but his flas based website highlights the problem with promotion through apps like flipboard on IOS. Will just have to read later.

  • 45435435

    you should have gone to school….

  • 45435435

    great more photos of people who kill other people is what the world needs.

  • Nathan Blaney

    Also perhaps of interest – Stacy Pearsall
    Is the only woman to have been Military Photographer of the year twice. Her two recent books are great – A Photojournalist’s Field Guide: In the trenches with combat photographer Stacy Pearsall and Shooter: Combat from Behind the Camera

  • Mike

    Some people kill because someone told them it’s OK. Some people kill to defend others from it.
    As long as the first group exist, the second has to, or else all is doomed.
    Pick a side. The world will not become a utopia in your lifetime.

  • Mike

    do a favour to everyone go and kill yourself.

  • Brixton

    Thank you Jeremy for what you do for our country…Chuck Norris who? You’re the real hero and an added bonus that you’re such a rad photographer!

  • Rob S

    Um all but two of those are from obvious training situations. One of the ones that isnt appears to be a soldier rendering aid. The last one – the 120mm mortar just above the wounded person, may or may not be training but since the gunner is not wearing body armor I suspect it too is training.

    No killing in any of these.

  • John Densky

    photojournalist and carries a gun do not belong in the same sentence. this fellow, and apparently petapixel have a very thin understanding of the term ‘photojournalist’

  • Norm Cooper

    Good shots.. I popped thru to his website, and his footer reads “All images copyrighted by Jeremy Locke and Dept of Defense”… I was wondering if he actual does hold explicit copyright to any images he took as and Air Force photographer working for the Air Force (obviously his personal work on his personal time would not be affected)

    What is a U.S. Government Work?
    A United States government work is prepared by an officer or employee
    of the United States government as part of that person’s official duties.

    It is not subject to copyright in the United States and there are no copyright restrictions on reproduction, derivative works, distribution, performance, or display of the work. Anyone may, without restriction under U.S. copyright laws:

    – reproduce the work in print or digital form;
    – create derivative works;
    – perform the work publicly;
    – display the work;
    – distribute copies or digitally transfer the work to the public by sale or other
    transfer of ownership, or by rental, lease, or lending.

  • Duke Shin

    What about Myspace?

  • ikea

    Spoken like a true jingoist.

  • Nathan Blaney

    In the book I mentioned in my previous comment, Stacy Pearsall (also USAF) discusses that all the work the military photographers create is in the public domain. True of most any US govt agency, I think.

  • Jake

    Let’s not give Chuck Norris too much credit here…

  • reddyroc

    Those are some wicked shots. Nice work, Stay safe out there.

  • Eziz

    I don’t think Chuck Norris needs a camera to photograph.

  • JM

    If he’s in the Army then he is nowhere close to being a photojournalist!!! He might take photos but he’s far from being a journalist.

    Please, Petapixel, learn the meaning of some of the words you casually throw around…

  • Ken Jones

    Ahem, brother!

  • 711oscar

    He doesn’t hold copyright on the military photos because he is employed to take said photos. Those photos he takes belong to the DOD, period, and not him. The DOD can do with them what they want. Every shot the White House photog takes, no matter if it’s crap, is downloaded and kept forever. He cannot delete any image from his card. I’m sure the same goes for the DOD or any government agency.

  • Juan Pirules

    Nice propaganda photos

  • JL

    Photo journalism is a particular form of journalism (the collecting, editing, and presenting of news material for publication or broadcast) that creates images in order to tell a news story. It is now usually understood to refer only to still images, but in some cases the term also refers to video used in broadcast journalism. Photojournalism is distinguished from other close branches of photography (e.g., documentary photography, social documentary photography, street photography orcelebrity photography) by complying with a rigid ethical framework which demands that the work is both honest and impartial whilst telling the story in strictly journalistic terms. Photojournalists create pictures that contribute to the news media.

    How is this not journalism? Even in the armed forces, there are journalist that publish news. Some may contribute that the Department of Defense may censor or only publish bias reports, but on the front line where soliders that are photographers are, they are telling a story through their imagery.

  • Christian DeBaun

    Glad you ran this piece Michael – thanks!

  • JM

    Simply because you can’t be an actor (soldier) and a witness (journalist) …

  • Seth Reddington

    Wow. This guy is amazing

  • donnod

    he has a camera, he takes good pictures actually great pictures but he is no where near being a journalist, which the word has lost its meaning in the US of A, he is embedded, more of a propagandist, all empires have their story tellers from one side of their subjective side.

  • Jimmy Mills


  • Terence Lee

    there are many kinds of journalism.

  • Duckmandan

    Your freaking retarded! He graduated from Syracuse University’s photojournalism prigram! Second you moron he is in the Air Force!

  • Duckmandan


  • veryPhil

    Ok Susan Sontag, I see where you’re going with this. Please explain to me the aesthetic semiotics of the images you’ve seen of his that give you the impression that he’s a propagandist and not a journalist. Plenty of James Nachtwey’s war images feature subjects who are combattants. Is Nachtwey a propagandist then? Go back to your job as a barrista where your babble impresses community college political science majors, real photographers are talking here.

  • Whit Elfner

    This is an awesome achievement, but it reminds me of Ron Smith, who was Military Photographer of the year back in 1969, who also was NPPA’s Newspaper photographer of the year in 1974! Wonder how many made the jump to civilian life and were equally successful?

    Photojournalism is a hard life, the median age for a photojournalist when I was in the field was 25 or 26. Ron was truly a great photographer and aggressive in the field until his passing, I miss you still.

  • Mike

    Nice shots, but you have to keep in mind: This isn’t war photography – it’s advertisement.

  • Matt

    If you want a good idea of what being a war photographer is like then watch the documentary ‘McCullin’.

    It’s not awesome, it’s terrifying, soul destroying and you see things that will haunt you for the rest of your life.

  • DDVello

    So because she is a woman she gets special recognition? These military photographers, including Locke, have the additional job of being “Public Affairs” which is military jargon for “PROPAGANDA.” Locke himself is an arrogant, self-centered ass. Give cameramen *HALF* the access this dipsh*t was given and they will come back with even more astounding results.

  • DDVello

    He doesn’t hold dick over his images, they are all public domain. He is, however, a self-centered arrogant bastard and would probably claim that he has copyright over them.