You might not recognize his face, but if you live, work or travel in the Washington D.C. metro area, or if you have a subscription to The Washington Post, you may have viewed some of his work from behind the lens of a camera.
Michael Coffman’s day job can get rather creative. As director of security operations staffing & scheduling, Coffman manages the division that determines TSA staffing budgets for the nation’s airports.
“My group ensures TSA is making the most of current staffing budgets while continuously advocating for the additional resources needed to support increasing passenger volumes and evolving security processes,” explained Coffman.
Outside of work, Coffman explores a more artistic path of creative expression.
“I got into photography to capture my travels and have since gotten into photographing anything that might make a good picture, be it aviation, birds, flowers, insects, wildlife,” acknowledged Coffman.
Some of those “good pictures” have made their way into highly visible and prominent places.
One of Coffman’s Independence Day photographs was included this month in a story in The Washington Post on the fireworks display over the National Mall.
“So much of photography is being in the right place at the right time,” said Coffman. “The planner in me really likes that aspect of the hobby. There is also a technical aspect of photography that appeals to the engineer in me.”
The pastime is relaxing for Coffman, who admits letting his shutterbug muses take over from time to time.
“Sometimes I get up early to get the right spot for the right photo while my wife sleeps, and sometimes, I just snap photos while enjoying a hike,” confessed Coffman.
Coffman, who doesn’t copy write his work, occasionally enters his snapshots in photo contests, shares them online and sells some through stock photo websites. Once they’re in stock photo land, you never know who’s buying the photo or where it will show up, which has led to a few serendipitous moments for Coffman.
“That was the case with the picture at Dulles Airport and NBC news photos, both of which were great surprises to see out in the world,” said Coffman. “Unfortunately, selling pictures these days doesn’t pay much, and the joy of knowing others are seeing and enjoying my pictures is my biggest reward.”
Whether in the office or framing his next shot, Coffman plans his work and works his plan.
“The one area I find challenging is the creative, artistic side of photography, something I still have to work hard at,” said Coffman. “I’ve met a lot of great photographers at TSA and am proud to be part of that group.”
By Karen Robicheaux, TSA Strategic Communications and Public Affairs