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Photo grads focus on military life

US Airforce Academy Wings of Blue jump froma plane
United States Air Force Academy Wings of Blue jump from a C-141 Starlifter during a demonstration at McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., on June 3, 2000. U.S. Air Force photo by Denise Gould ’01 (photography).

Although they are civilians, John Sidoriak ’96 (biomedical photography) and fellow employees – including many RIT alumni – have documented some of the most dramatic, exciting and solemn aspects of military life.

Senior Airman Brandon Reynolds
Senior Airman Brandon Reynolds of the 436th Airlift Wing Honor Guard, peers over the top of the flag he prepared at the funeral of Brigadier Gen. Fred W. Vetter Jr., former Dover Air Force Base Wing Commander, for presentation to the general’s wife. U.S. Air Force photo by William M. Plate Jr. ’99 (visual journalism).

Capturing these images is a big part of the business of Fisher-Cal Industries Inc. Founded in 1985, the company is a U.S. Department of Defense contractor providing visual information services ranging from graphic arts and conventional photography to digital communications, information technology, video and other services.

A father off the U.S.S. Philadelphia receives a hug from his daughter
A father off of the U.S.S. Philadelphia receives a hug from his daughter as he arrives home from an extended deployment. U.S. Navy photo by Ethan
Macnow ’98 (photography).

“We work hand-in-hand with the military,” says Sidoriak, who joined the company in July 1996 as a photographer/illustrator and now serves as director of operations. “We photograph various activities as requested, often for historical purposes.”

For example, Fisher-Cal photographers Sidoriak, William Plate ’99 (visual journalism) and Kristin Royalty ’03 (biomedical photography), captured the images of flag-draped coffins returning to Dover Air Force Base from Iraq that were seen in the news media. Additionally, fellow alumni at McGuire AFB, N.J. conducted the first aerial reconnaissance images of the World Trade Center 9/11 attack images.

A Coast Guard helicopter picks up aircrew members
An HH-65 Dolphin Helicopter from the Coast Guard base in Atlantic City, N.J., lowers Aviation Survival Technician 3rd Class Zee Lee to pick up aircrew members from McGuire Air Force Base, N.J. The military members participated in water survival training as part of aircrew certification. This session took place in Long Beach Island, N.J. on July 29, 2004. U.S. Air Force photo by Brian A. Dyjak ’04 (photography).

Some of the work is more prosaic. Fisher-Cal photographers – including 12 other RIT grads from the biomedical, photojournalism and graphic media publishing curriculums – also shoot studio portraits and formal group shots of military personnel, crime scene investigation documentation and images for use in various publications. Graphics media alumni produce documents, news releases and illustrations for congressional reports and hearings.

Dan Wasinski
Dan Wasinski, Dover Air Force Base civilian firefighter, makes sure a scorched hallway is clear after a fire ripped through the entire first floor of the building. U.S. Air Force photo by William M. Plate Jr. ’99 (visual journalism).

“Graduating from RIT’s visual journalism program, I had my doubts about taking this job because of the fear there would not be variety in my assignments being limited to an Air Force Base,” says Plate, former Fisher-Cal employee at Dover Air Force Base. “I soon realized my assignments were just as diverse as those of a newspaper photographer, plus I had to learn forensic and biomedical while on the job. Being in the pits for NASCAR races and heading into burning buildings with the base fire department were a few of my favorite shoots.” Plate is now assistant director of learning resources at Florida Atlantic University where he is supervising the photography and graphic arts department that provides multimedia service to the university.

An airman with the 436th Airlift Wing Base Honor Guard salutes transfer cases of military service members killed in action in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom on their arrrival at Dover Air Force Base. U.S. Air Force photo by Kristin Royalty ’03 (biomedical photography) care of thememoryhole.org.

Sidoriak also has had many interesting assignments, including photographing an in-flight refueling of the Blue Angels jets from inside the fuel-carrying aircraft, documenting firefighter training from within a burning structure, becoming weightless inside a military aircraft while testing and evaluating new military technology and the arrival of Kosovo refugees in the United States.

“The variety of the work – that’s the greatest part of the job,” says Sidoriak. “Graduates from RIT hired by Fisher-Cal Industries have the skills and experience to step right into a state-of-the-art facility and provide high-quality products that are recognized as ‘top notch’ by the Department of Defense.”

Dan Wasinski
A B-2 Spirit from Whiteman Air Force Base, Mo., approaches the boom of a McGuire Air Force Base, N.J., KC-10A Extender for refueling. U.S. Air Force photo by Scott H. Spitzer '99 (photography).

In addition to the RIT grads who are employed by the company, Fisher-Cal Industries provides internships to RIT students, Sidoriak says. “We expect all of our interns to work alongside our current staff as a single unit.”
For more about the company, visit www.dodimage.com.

RIT Works! focuses on the contributions of RIT graduates in the workplace.