Post WWII Navy Promoted Amateur Photography

While preparing my parents house to be sold, I discovered a copy of All Hands from February 1946. This was a small magazine distributed to sailors by the Bureau of Naval Personnel. On page 67, I found an article titled ComServPac Encourages Photographic Activity In All Forward Areas. “ComServPac” was the service support command of the United States Pacific Fleet from 1942 until 1973.

The article reports on a 1 December 1945 memo stating that, while details were at the discretion of the local commanding officer, in general “many shore areas which during the war were forbidden…are now accessible for ‘snapshooting'”.

But the memo went beyond opening up areas for “snapshooting”. It also authorized the “establishment of photographic shops on ships and stations in forward areas … as a part of a well-rounded recreation program”. It went on to say

“The shops, outfitted with materials and equipment ordered from surplus aviation supplies, are expected to be [in a] position to handle portrait work and photographs of Navy groups and activities for personal use, in addition to processing pictures taken by Navy personnel.

“Cameras suitable for personal use may be ordered for resale by ship’s stores and ship’s service stores in the forward areas from surplus Navy equipment and commercial stocks through regular procurement channels. Available cameras range from “brownie” types to equipment capable of professional work.”

ASTORIA Ship's Photographer Herman Schnipper in the USS ASTORIA darkroom, July 1944. Photo by  Herman Schnipper.See more at
Self portrait of USS ASTORIA Ship’s Photographer Herman Schnipper in the ship’s darkroom, July 1944. See more at

The memo also provided a list of equipment and supplies needed to outfit a “photographic shop”.

I wonder to what extent this contributed to the growth of both amateur and professional photography after the war? If any of you have information or photographs on the military’s support of photography, I encourage you to post them in the comments section.


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