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Behind the Photo: I-Day

By Al Drago

Al Drago/CQ Roll Call

Al Drago/CQ Roll Call

On July 1 I woke up before the sun and headed to Annapolis for one of my favorite assignments to shoot: The Naval Academy Induction Day. Also known as "I-Day," parents drop off their kids and say their goodbyes for the next six weeks. During these weeks the new students, known as "plebes," will learn all the ins and outs of the Navy, the Academy, and what is expected of them for the next four years.  

On Induction Day, plebes have their heads shaved, new uniforms issued and get their first taste of a superior yelling (read "commanding") over them. By the end of the day, the plebes literally look different and are ready to begin their Navy careers.  

As a photojournalist, this assignment is one of the holy grails of newspaper photography. There are so many visual elements and actions going on, from the handfuls of hair falling off to the ranking officers getting in the plebes' faces, everywhere you turn around there's a great picture.  

I also tried Snapchatting the day and have included the video. It's a fun, quick way to document the day, 10 seconds at a time.  

Behind the Photo: Snapchatting The Naval Academy Induction Day

I wanted to show a glimpse of the days events from the eyes of the plebes. I framed my pictures close-up and head-on to try and see what they were seeing, as well as convey what they were feeling. The pictures are simple: Not much color or extraneous things going on away from the intense looks of fear, excitement, and unknowing in the eyes of the plebes. It's hard to imagine what is going on in their heads in these moments, but one can only hope they can stick it through these next six weeks.