“I experienced the most affordable SAT scores in California,” photographer Laura Hatcher suggests with a hearty chuckle in her small portrait studio in Aged Town Alexandria.

That truth could possibly have created her vocation trajectory rather unbelievable: a Navy brat who graduated from the U.S. Naval Academy, and retired as a Navy captain subsequent a career as an intelligence officer. And, just as her very first occupation supplied tools for achievements, her awkward changeover to civilian lifestyle spurred Hatcher to attain out and help other individuals.

Hatcher was born in London, but her Navy stepfather eventually transferred to Rota, Spain, and then San Diego. Hatcher attended preparatory faculty and then the Naval Academy on an educational scholarship for volleyball.

“As an athlete, I experienced a extremely big ego, but that university introduced it back again down to size, mainly because the lecturers at the Naval Academy is no joke anyone graduates with an engineering diploma, no matter of research,” Hatcher explained. “Differential equations and naval architecture are demanded courses.”

She additional that her weakness in math was finally conquered, which built her graduation even sweeter.

Hatcher said her 1st tour as a diver and driving a salvage ship have been discouraging, arduous duties. Just after conferring with her stepfather, by then retired, she switched to intelligence officer.

In 2015, she was dwelling in Fairfax, pushing away the winter season doldrums and attended a evening class in essential images. She originally hated it, because the first class was loaded with math, speaking about these kinds of technicalities as f-stops and shutter speeds. She stuck with it, although, and later on arrived to comprehend that the camera is a form of passport.

“What I found out from that teacher is that you get obtain to sites with a digital camera,” Hatcher claimed. “If you are not meant to be there, you can beg forgiveness.” Following a course tour photographing inside of the Countrywide Cathedral, she was hooked.

4 several years ago, Hatcher wandered into a small photograph studio in Alexandria and achieved photographer Katie Garlock, who was accomplishing portraiture. She questioned Garlock if she would be her mentor – a useful follow Hatcher cultivated in the Navy. Garlock agreed, and loaned her lighting machines that Hatcher could use at her house.

With her new competencies, Hatcher consistently offered totally free headshots to provider associates in the Changeover Help Plan, including a experienced headshot to their submit-military job queries.

“I’d expend time each thirty day period supporting people more than at Joint Base Anacostia-Bolling, and established up in the split room to give the entire course complimentary head pictures,” Hatcher stated. “I do it because that first year I was out of support, I was battling to come across my footing, and did not know what was lacking. I realized it was a reduction of local community and talking to people that understood me.”

Hatcher claimed she also collaborated with the Richmond-dependent nonprofit Boots to Fits, which provides veterans with business enterprise apparel, enabling them to glimpse and sense their greatest for job interviews, though Hatcher furnished the skilled headshots.

Right after four years of mentoring, Garlock retired and moved absent, and Hatcher assumed the hire on the studio, now the residence of Laura Hatcher Pictures.

For her ongoing company, Hatcher was honored at the 2021 Virginia Girls Veterans Summit previous month with the Trailblazer Award from the Virginia Department of Veteran Services. The award acknowledges creativeness, eyesight, courage, commitment and tenacity in advocating for and building alterations to make improvements to the high-quality of everyday living for Virginia’s females veterans.

“One of the highlights of our … summit is to recognize and honor our outstanding fellow Virginia women of all ages veterans for their dedication, innovation and contributions to increasing the life of all ladies who serve or served in our armed forces,” claimed Beverly VanTull, the department’s women veterans program supervisor. “Laura Hatcher is most deserving of this award.”

Hatcher mentioned paying it forward is just portion of the army ethos.

“It’s what we realized to do when we’re in uniform, appropriate? Teamwork is supporting our shipmate,” Hatcher reported. “If you choose treatment of your men and women, they will consider care of you.”