College Student Photographs Troops In Afghanistan

Julieanne Morse is a senior at Black Hills State University studying photography and graphic design. She is also beginning her ninth year with the South Dakota National Guard. The skills she is learning in college and the Guard came together in 2013 in Afghanistan where she traveled with the United States military as a photojournalist documenting the day-to-day lives of American troops.

Julieanne Morse

Julieanne Morse is a mass communication major at Black Hills State University in Spearfish. She also spent nine months of 2013 deployed in Afghanistan with the National Guard’s 129th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment.

Much of her time was spent helping other journalists find the resources they needed.

During her deployment Morse also had the opportunity to get out from behind her desk and do some reporting herself.

She traveled with infantry, cavalry, artillery, and administrative units as a photojournalist. Her job was to photograph a day in the life of soldiers fighting the war in Afghanistan.

“At least in the Army, as a military photojournalist, you take the pictures, write the stories, and caption, and you’re all kind of all-in-one,” says Morse.

Morse carried more than fifty pounds of gear with her including her rifle, ammunition, water, a first-aid kit, and her camera and lenses.

She says there is a heightened sense of awareness that comes with taking pictures while on foot patrol in a war zone.

“For sure there are times when you have to ask the Afghans or have an interpreter ask the Afghans, “Am I okay to photograph here or am I okay to be in here? Or even as a woman am I okay to be in this room right now, like, with even my hat off because my hair is showing sort of thinga��,” says Morse.

Morse says she did feel scared on a few occasions, but, says she didn’t let fear get in her way.

“I’m here to do a job. Whatever happens happens. I’m going to do my job to the best of my ability and not worry so much about my surroundings as far as if I’m to get hurt,” says Morse.

Although traveling with American troops can be dangerous, Morse says her experience taking pictures of the war in Afghanistan made her a better photographer. She says taking pictures of soldiers simply doing their jobs gave her a sense of fulfillment.

“It’s just so rewarding for me when they feel valued because I took the time to cover what they’re doing and bring value to what they are doing, and bring light to what they’re doing,” says Morse.

Morse is scheduled to graduate from Black Hills State in December and says she also plans to continue her career with the National Guard.

Morse’s exhibit of self-portraits from Afghanistan will be on display in Meier Hall at Black Hills State University. The exhibit reception is April 10, 2014 from 4:30 to 6:30 pm. Morse will be giving a presentation in BHSU’s Jonas Science building following the reception. Both are open to the public.