As a military reservist, we are truly civilian soldiers. We live a portion of our lives as civilians, detached from the military; the other half is lived as soldiers. As a member of the Air Force, I have done a tour on active duty. As with many reservists, I found myself not suited to active duty, and so I left the military. After completing my undergraduate degree, I returned several years later as a graduate student, this time as a reservist.
During the summer months of 2012, I spent 100 days on active orders with the Air Force Reserves in Minneapolis. I was training for a new job in the Reserves, and there was a need for me to work full-time; I had the summer off and agreed. From that point on, I decided that I would document my time with a camera. I aimed to take my camera with me to document everything I did over the summer: the places I went, the events I attended, and the base at which I was stationed.
I elected to use a small camera in order to carry it with me everywhere. I acquired an old Olympus XA2--an analog point-and-shoot camera from the 1980s--which turned out to be the ideal camera for this project, in many ways. And so, in the cargo pocket of my uniform, I carried this little camera, and used mainly two films in order to achieve a visual consistency: Kodak Portra for color, and Kodak Tri-X for monochrome.
What I found was a study in contrasts. There were relics of another time--the typewriter in the engineer's office, or the buildings slated for demolition--contrasted with the brand-new, modern amenities of the lodging facility. The military personnel working side-by-side with civilian contractors. The large buldings filled with numerous offices, but housing only very few staff. The faded, peeling decals on the windows of the headquarters building. Utterly devoid of people during the month, but overflowing during training weekends.
It is a job unlike many others, and as a civilian soldier, spending the summer in uniform was a unique experience that I hope the photographs in the following pages reflect. It was a unique, visually rich, experience.
This is my Summer Job.
Trevor A Saylor
Minneapolis, September 2012