Visually enhancing products at Middle East District

Published Oct. 2, 2018
Middle East District Visual Information Specialist, Shannon Hodges, previews photos she shot during the normal routine of her day.

Middle East District Visual Information Specialist, Shannon Hodges, previews photos she shot during the normal routine of her day.

Visual Information Services for the Middle East District have been provided by Shannon Hodges since 2014. 

In 2011, Hodges had concluded 11 years of active duty Air Force service in Emergency Management and began her three years as a civilian Emergency Operations Assistant for the G-3 at the Transatlantic Division. With an associate’s degree in Emergency Management and a bachelor’s in Intelligence Studies and Criminal Justice from American Military University, Hodges was perfect for the job. But in 2014, her job was abolished as part of a larger TAD downsizing.

In order to remain employed by USACE in Winchester, Hodges accepted an administrative position with the District. Within six months, the Visual Information Specialist position opened and since photography had been a hobby of hers since high school, she applied and was selected.  

A large portion of Hodges' current work at the District is centered on graphics and photography. As a one-person shop, she is always busy. Serving both the District and the higher headquarters Transatlantic Division, she produces marketing booklets, informational brochures and ceremonial programs, among a whole list of other, smaller projects for team members and leadership of both organizations. Working closely with the Public Affairs Office, she keeps the information displayed on the hallway monitors fresh and updated, informing every one of upcoming events and celebrations.

“Shannon has been a forward thinker and with her expertise and keen eye, the Middle East District has been able to evolve and produce materials following the latest trends and that keep our Visual Information Services a cut above,” said Gerald Henry, chief of Information Support Services and her immediate supervisor. “Shannon thinks outside the box and helps give the District and Division that WOW factor with everything she creates.”

“The work that probably allows me the most freedom to be creative is what I do to create advertisements and graphics for the hallway monitors,” Hodges said. “Overall, I like to take information – like magazines and handout materials – and make it look pretty and professional.”

The Visual Information Specialist position is part of Information Management, but she is collocated within the Public Affairs Office because her skill set pairs perfectly with and complements those in the PAO.

With a small make-shift studio in one of the cubicles in PAO, Hodges dutifully keeps all team members in passport, visa and base pass photos. She maintains leadership portraits for publicly released biographies and chain of command displays. She also photographs ceremonies and VIP customer meetings for PAO’s use on FACEBOOK and to accompany quickly written news stories. There’s also the occasional impromptu fun photos – such as two team members accidentally dressed as twins, chili contest winners, or other celebrations usually involving cake.

“Shannon creates visual stories that bring the fascinating work, and more importantly, the incredible people of the District to life,” said Christina Holsclaw, chief of Information Management. “Her creative eye enables her to capture and share moments that would ordinarily be lost in the daily shuffle.”

Hodges further feeds her photography passion as a wedding, family and pet photographer, spending many of her weekends behind a lens.  

“One of my favorite things to do is taking professional photos of animals for local shelters and rescue groups,” she said. “High quality photos increase the chances of an animal being adopted. It makes my heart happy to be able to help with that process.”

Although Hodges is the only paid photographer on staff, there is a continuous need for photos from District project sites to use in briefings and all manner of printed products and displays.  Hodges has prepared some photo tips for field office personnel and traveling project managers so photos can still make their way back to Winchester. She is also available for any questions you may have, 540-665-3749.