As a photographers mate in the military, I have been around photography for most of my life. This interest started with making surf videos using old VHS video cameras progressing to time-lapse photography using a Kessler Slider with control motion. While growing up, my friends and I would spend hours watching surf videos. That triggered a strong desire to make surf videos using my buddy’s father’s VHS video camera. We excitedly plugged the video into the TV and audio from the play station; then off we went. After that experience, I was hooked on using photography as a visual communication tool and haven’t put a camera down since.
Life wasn’t easy growing up being raised in a poor family moving back and forth from California and Connecticut. My stepmother created and maintained early alarm systems for the military; whereas my father was a Navy diver. Even though both parents worked, the family’s income was at or below the poverty line. There was a time when I lived in a car during my teen years. This happened because our family was divided and I was living with my biological mother in Connecticut.
After completing Huntington Beach high school, I joined the Navy. It was there as a Petty Officer that I graduated from the Defense Information School's Basic Still Photography program in June 2001. I later entered City University of Seattle and earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Mass Communication and Journalism in September 2010.
After successfully completing an undergraduate degree, not only did I want to expand my knowledge base in Mass Communications, but also was recommended to do so by several military officers in my unit. This altruistic encouragement extended the journey towards achieving my dream in Mass Communications. Not receiving academic support in school, this was a turning point in my life ― finally I had others who saw my potential and believed in me.
My military career started as a mud puppy running around at Mobile Diving and Salvage Unit (MDSU-2). Because of this experience, I had aspirations of becoming a second-class diver like my father. In 2002, I realized that following in my father’s footsteps wasn’t what the Navy had planned for me. In 2004, it was on to the flight deck of the USS Kitty Hawk where I worked as a Photographer’s mate assigned to Fighter Strike Squadron (VFA-102) in the Gulf. From VFA-102, I was transferred to Japan from Lemoore, California. It wasn’t until I went to Japan that my exceptional photography skills were discovered. And in 2011, the Navy sent me to Afghanistan where I rotated from mission to mission that kept me from staying on base.
In my current positions with the military and police department, I constantly use visual and verbal communication skills to solve problems and document events. I have also used these skills when performing volunteer services/activities for the community and the police department. In my hunger to obtain as much knowledge as possible, I have explored many books, articles and websites on the subject of Mass Communications. These invaluable nuggets of knowledge have helped prepare me for the world of work as a competent, professional combat photographer.
My pictures have been published since 2003 under the credit line of “Jonathan Chandler” in such prestigious newspapers as the LA Times, Washington Post, etc. Military superiors in Afghanistan considered me one of the most well rounded photographers displaying a humble demeanor and compassion that shows in my images.
From 2001 through 2010, these educational, work and volunteer experiences have really prepared me for graduate study.
I am currently enrolled at Chapman University for my Masters degree in Business with an emphasis in entrepreneurship.