On the Job with Jesus Alvarado
When asked why he likes his current job his answer was simple, respectful, and endearing. You could hear the pride in his voice, and it is men and women like him who make a difference while serving our country
“The main thing I like is, yes, one we are saving lives and making a big impact in the community, but what really makes me happy is to see the aircraft return with the crew safe. A lot of the guys who risk their lives are kids, the same age as my sons, so I kind of see my sons through them. I am going to make sure I do a good job so they can come home to be with their families, with their loved ones.”
Now that he is a little older, working along side with the military and the young people who serve, it helps keep Jesus feeling young.
Jesus’ story starts at a young age, around twelve. The child of migrant workers in California, he was raised by his grandmother. When she could no longer care for him, he was returned to his mother who was living with a man who was abusive. Not wanting to live like that he sold his guitar and bought a bus ticket to Boys Town in Nebraska. There he learned to speak English and finished school.
When I asked Jesus why he joined the Navy, his answer touched me.
“Because I had no home. I grew up in Boys Town, a boys home in Nebraska,” Jesus said.
Since he had nowhere else to go he thought he would join the Navy and do his country an honorable service. He loved aircrafts and he also loved photography. When he joined he wanted to be a photographer or a jet engine mechanic. Fate decided for him, he spent his Navy career as a jet engine mechanic. But fate wasn’t quite done yet, fate eventually caught up with him and towards the end of his Navy career, he was able to do some photography on-the-job.
It was his photographs of the planes, the helicopters, and the men and women he worked with who inspired this segment—On The Job, for the Stories from the Front Porch magazine. The emotions emanating from his images spoke of his pride for a job he felt was important.
Jesus retired from the Navy around eight years ago, and just as he was retiring a job with the Department of Defense Search and Rescue became available. He applied, and continues his career as a helicopter mechanic, protecting the men and women who serve our country.
His second love, photography, started at Boys Town in Nebraska when he was a teenager. Around 1982 or 1984 he discovered a magazine called Photo Graphic at the library. He didn’t quite understand the concepts of photography techniques, but the composition of the photographs captured him and he was hooked. He took a one-week photography class during summer break to learn the basics. At Boys Town he was into sports but due to a bad shoulder he couldn’t play, so he started photographing the High School games and events. Eventually he got his own camera, a Nikon N2000 with a lens.
He started with film, then while stationed in the desert, digital cameras came along and he picked up his first digital camera, a Canon Rebel.
When asked what his favorite subject to photograph, he stated he likes to photograph people. He recently went mirrorless with a new Fuji camera and has been practicing “street” photography.
His ultimate project will be to photograph homeless people in black and white and create a book with their images and their stories. We all have a story to tell and Jesus wants to capture their stories with a camera.
“From then on I started getting creative, learning more to get what I need to do to get what I visualized.”
“I was into photography before I got a camera.”