The magazine of the art-form of the photo-essay
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Nov 2013 back issue
by Bryan Adams
When talking to the men and women here about what enabled them to endure their ordeals, many would say quite
humbly that it was the camaraderie with their comrades in the field or their thoughts of home that got them through.
There is a trust between soldiers that is undeniable and during combat the combination of mental strength and endless
hours of training helped them survive, but ultimately their lives were in the hands of the soldier next to them-they knew
they would be looked after if or when the time came.
Some of these photographs were originally exhibited in Düsseldorf, Germany, in 2013 at the NRW forum, and what
was striking at the opening was that, even though the gallery was full of people, no one was talking, there was hardly a
whisper. Perhaps it was because we always hear about the atrocities of war, but we hardly ever see the physical
damage. I think it's important to consider the human side of war-that was the reason for making this book.
What occurred to me whilst taking these photographs were the untold stories from all sides of the conflicts-the soldiers
and the civilians caught in the crossfire who lost their lives whom we will never know about. It wasn't possible to cover
all their stories, but the British veterans represented here are indicative of a large group of people in the world who
were injured as a result of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.
I'm grateful to everyone who participated in making this book, especially to the journalist Caroline Froggatt, whose
initial contact inspired the project. These photographs give us a small glimpse of the injuries we inflict upon ourselves
when we decide to take arms against each other. The wounds go deep, but what can't be shown here are the
emotional scars, and for many the battle begins at home, readjusting to a new way of life.
Once the dust settles on the plains and deserts of Afghanistan and Iraq, and the spin and propaganda of governments
and politicians has become a distant echo, all that is left are the wounded-the legacy of war.