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Photo Collection Shows Faces of War

Photo courtesy of jaqian/Flickr

In Montana, international conflict often seems far away — so far away that it’s easy to forget that there are real people whose lives have changed dramatically as a direct result of war.

Many of those people are the soldiers who have fought overseas — the people who, whether they realize it or not, come home different.

Countless stories have been written to chronicle their journeys, but one of the most powerful pieces I have seen does not require words. For a collection titled “We Are Not The Dead: soldiers’ faces before, during and after serving in Afghanistan,” Lalage Snow photographed the faces of members of 1st Battalion The Royal Regiment of Scotland before, during and after their tours in Afghanistan.

The final product is eye opening, if not shocking. In my college photojournalism classes, I was taught that expression is one of the most important components of a successful photograph. People’s expressions — smiling, crying, scowling — help tell a story of what is happening in that moment.

In this collection, however, the faces themselves tell the story — their shape, their lines, their color. Soldiers went in with full, healthy faces and came out looking gaunt and exhausted. In the photos that were taken mid-tour, you can almost see the emotional wall built up behind each soldier’s eyes.

Each series of photos is accompanied by a set of captions in which the subjects describe the context of each individual photograph. They talk about what was going on at the time and how they were feeling. But the images are so powerful that their words are almost unnecessary.

Even if you’re not a photography nut, I recommend checking it out. It’s an interesting take on something that, in the end, affects us all.

Brooke is a 2010 graduate of The University of Montana, where she ran track and cross country for the Grizzlies. She is currently working as a writer and editor in Missoula.

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