The Foreign Service Journal, May 2022

36 MAY 2022 | THE FOREIGN SERVICE JOURNAL For this FSO, commitment to a second career as a photographer was gradual. BY CHARL ES O. CEC I L Global Photography From Hobby to Career During a 35-year career, Ambassador (ret.) Charles Cecil served in nine Muslim countries in Africa and the Middle East—Kuwait, Zanzibar (now part of Tanzania), Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Tunisia, Mali, Oman, Côte d’Ivoire and Niger, where he was chief of mission. Assignments in Washington included the bureaus of Near Eastern Affairs, African Affairs, Political-Military Affairs and Oceans and International Environmental and Scientific Affairs, as well as the Board of Examiners of the Foreign Service. He also spent a year on Capitol Hill as a Congressional Fellow. He retired in 2001, but subsequently served in Libya as chargé d’affaires from November 2006 until July 2007. Since that time he has devoted himself full time to his second career, working as an international travel photographer. Prior to joining the Foreign Service, he served as an officer in the U.S. Air Force. He and his wife, Jean, whom he met in Kuwait on his first assignment, have three children and six grandchildren. He can be reached at FOCUS ON LIFE AFTER THE FOREIGN SERVICE P hotography had always been my hobby. As I neared my 60th birthday, I began to think of it as a second career. The market for “stock” photography images to illustrate textbooks and magazine articles was good, and it seemed a reasonable way to contribute to help- ing Americans understand the wider world around us, since it was the cultures of the developing world that interested me the most. After three years as chief of mission in Niamey, I returned to Washington, D.C., in 1999 for an assign- ment on the Board of Examiners. In 2001, after 35 years in the Service, I decided to retire, to devote myself, I thought, full time to photography and writing. It turned out to be a gradual, rather than “cold-turkey” retire- ment. And it would take six more years and a “cataclysmic event” to decisively launch my post-retirement career as a photographer. b For starters, I really enjoyed giving oral exams for BEX, iden- tifying promising candidates for the Service. Moreover, I enjoyed the opportunities to spend two to three weeks at a time in cities around the U.S., giving exams in places I had never visited. Until March 2006 I continued to work for four to five months a year for “Ensuring Your Safety.” Public surveillance cameras in Yangzhou, China. CHARLESO.CECIL