War Portrait Project

Photographer Lalage Snow has put together a stunning project, titled We Are The Not Dead, featuring portraits of British soldiers before, during, and after deployment in Afghanistan. While this project does mark a striking resemblance to other series, it still captures a sort of haunting change in the faces of these young men.

Snow's series accompanies each triptych with quotes from each of the servicemen that gives a great deal of insight into their mental and emotional state at each given time. Sergeant Alexander McBroom's first portrait, before deployment, features him bravely saying, "I am not worried about going out - it is my job after all." Three months later, he is quoted as saying, "It has been an eye opener." And, finally, another four months after, he says, "It is always that fear, that apprehension, what is going to happen if I get blown up?" Having gone through life-altering trials and warfare, it is no surprise that fear is no longer a foreign feeling to these courageous men.

Snow's intention with the series is to not only honor their bravery by featuring them, but to also draw attention to every soldiers' psychological transformation. She says, "It was a very personal project and stemmed from having embedded with the military on and off for 4 years in Iraq and Afghanistan and bearing witness to how many young men return as shadows of their former selves and, in many cases, with deep, psychological scars. As the body count of British servicemen killed or wounded rose and the political ramifications of the British army’s presence in Afghanistan became increasingly convoluted, more and more soldiers felt like they didn’t have a voice, or at least, weren’t being listened to. We Are The Not Dead is an attempt at giving the brave young men and women the chance to explain how it really is."

Check out the entire series here.

-Via My Modern Met

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A bit of a subjective exercise here - as art is the tool whereby the artist projects his or her interpretation of events or a situation. The photographer no doubt got exactly the shot for each stage of this 'event' exactly as they wanted them to portray whatever it was they imagined they wanted them too. Given the control of lighting and the ability to pose the subject you could make all three shots look exactly the same or different. Another instance of civilians picking and choosing whatever message they want to hear coming out of Afganistan relevant to their political stance.
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