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Imagery & Photography

This is a highly skilled profession with many areas of specialization. In performing analysis the Imagery Analyst) IA must bring to bear the cumulative professional skills and knowledge acquired to derive a product that will be responsive to the user’s needs. Background knowledge is extremely important. IAs prepare for their work not only through the more mechanical skills of imagery intelligence production, but also through development of a background in the geographic, cultural, and technical aspects associated with a given area or region. This background is essential to distinguishing what is normal from the unusual. IAs are generally information entrepreneurs and archivists, a person whose external memory store of information is as important as the internal one it supports.

The more successful or “expert” IAs are those who have developed a special motivation for the field, and a genuine curiosity about their work. They find a challenge in recognizing the unusual things that can be detected in the imagery. They are highly individualistic in their methods and techniques, with a balance of the individualism demonstrated in the “team” approach and sentiment. This teaming is best represented where the more senior analysts assist the novice or newly assigned person. One of the more powerful mechanisms present in the IA domain is the information flow that takes place during all phases of analysis. Informal information exchange channels run between IAs performing similar tasks. These information networks are established and sustained based on the credibility of information shared. These channels answer questions, provide clarifications and offer feedback.

The more complex aspects of imagery analysis are essentially passed on through an oral tradition, often as part of a kind of apprenticeship or as spontaneously learned by the individual IA. Training documentation and materials have traditionally been very limited, particularly in respect to military imagery analysis tasks. Most IAs learned their trade while in the military or government service.

Links to imagery jobs information in this module:

Army Geospatial Intel Imagery Analyst

Job GIS Specialist

Job Imagery Analyst

Aerial Survey Technician

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