While most people would fail to see the similarities between photography and military service, Laura Hatcher finds a deep connection to the two that not only makes her love her job as a professional photographer, but excel at it. “I know why this brings me so much joy,” she says. “I’m back in command. At my studio, I’m in control. I get to put people’s fear at ease. I’m solving problems. I’m doing all the things I learned in the military.”
Joining the Navy in 1987, Hatcher climbed the ranks with determination to prove that she could exceed expectations that were placed on her because of her race and gender. “I always made a point of doing anything a man could do, just as well, if not better. But as women, sometimes that means we have to work twice as hard,” Hatcher says.
Her hard work took her far in her military career, and Hatcher served as the first Ship’s Intelligence Officer for the USS GEORGE H.W. BUSH (CVN-77), receiving not only recognition but also a kiss on the cheek from the ship’s namesake, President Bush, in 2009. She also served as Commanding Officer, Navy Expeditionary Intelligence Command in Dam Neck, Virginia in 2011 and retired as a captain in 2018.
A year after retirement, Hatcher realized that she wanted to pursue something that would allow the creativity she had long abandoned to shine. That something was photography.
The majority of Hatcher’s clients are veterans, allowing her the opportunity to mentor “above and beyond” photography as they face transitioning out of military life. The greatest reward she finds in her job is helping veterans preserve their legacy through her photography. As a result, Hatcher was awarded the 2021 Trailblazer Award by the Virginia Department of Veteran Services. Recently, SBDC Alexandria endorsed her as their 2021 Veteran of the Year nominee.
As a photographer and veteran, Hatcher memorializes military ceremonies and enjoys projects that capture a piece of history. During the summer of 2021, she and her youngest son followed and documented over 20 women motorcycle riders from Portland, Oregon to Arlington, Virginia. Harley Davidson and Women’s Motorcycle Tours sponsored the event to commemorate the 100th (+1) anniversary of the 19th Amendment—the women’s right to vote. Partial registration proceeds supported Final Salute, Inc., a non-profit that provides homeless women veterans with safe and suitable housing.
In addition to events and ceremonies, Hatcher specializes in professional headshots. She lives in Alexandria with her husband and three sons. Her studio is located in Old Town Alexandria.
Laura Hatcher Photography