Great photographer from World War I
Auguste-Louis Le Prince, a well-known French photographer from the World War I era, was a master of his craft. Despite serving in the French army during the war, he continued to document his country’s landscape and people through photography in innovative ways. His work ultimately contributed greatly to both the art and history of wartime photography.
Le Prince began his career in France, operating photographic studios in several cities, including Lyon and Toulouse. However, when the war broke out, he volunteered with the French army, joining as a photographer-reporter. Throughout his service, he traveled with troops on both the Western and Eastern fronts while taking pictures of their battles, operations, and everyday life.
Using early wet plate collodion processes of photography, Le Prince captured stunning images which conveyed an emotive sense of reality. His later prints, commonly referred to as ‘Postcards from the Front’ presented an affecting insight into an everchanging warzone. Iconic photographs such as ‘Battle at Bayonville’ (1917) and ‘French Soldiers Grave’ (1918) remain as some of the most important records from a tragic conflict that has been forever imprinted in history.
His works gained great recognition for their originality and ultimately revolutionized how narrative photography was composed. As a result, Auguste-Louis Le Prince is remembered both for his bravery on the battlefield and for creating some of the most timeless images of WWI. His photos remain powerful visual documents that allow us to comprehend the brutal violence that occurred throughout the war.
Recently, I had the pleasure of researching and uncovering the individualities of great photographers from World War I. Many professional photographers emerged in WWI who utilized their talents in recording history and capturing unforgettable moments that would shape our future generations.
One such photographer was Liu Jianwu, a Chinese man who joined the Chinese Labor Corps, known as CLB, during the war. His photography skills were quickly noticed by his fellow soldiers. He was asked to document labor corps activities for propaganda purposes. This resulted in his unique visual account of activities in France and Belgium, as well as on different fronts in the Western theater of war.
Liu’s photographs showed versatility; images of civilians living through destruction and destruction caused by air raids. He also captured some of the fighting and the bloodied bodies of both fallen friend and foe – an unvarnished but important truth that underscored the intensity of the conflict.
In addition to Liu, other important WWI photographers included Frenchman Clovis-Morel Durand, British soldier David McLellan, American Geofrey Doty, French female photographer Esther Bubley and Gaston Tissandier.
Durand documented images of everyday life in Northern France during a period when much destruction plagued his own country. Doty captured vivid images of soldiers on horseback, trenches filled with gas and some of the danger that comes with being in a hazardous environment like the ones experienced by WWI soldiers each day. McLellan’s work focused mainly on the German prisoners held at the POW camp in Donington Hall as well as documenting life at army camps in France and Belgium.
Bubley’s photographs focused on providing images for publications like The New Yorker and Vogue magazine. Her ground-breaking work depicted scenes away from the battlegrounds – nightclubs and parties – something practically unseen since before the war began. Lastly, Tissandier traveled with famous photographer Roger Fenton to document forgotten battles such as those occurred at Ypres and Verdun. Allowing us to see not only pictures of war but its aftermath as well.
All these amazing individuals gave us a glimpse into their time period as they gave us unforgettable snapshots of history; images that still remarkably stand today despite passing decades since WWI drew to a close in 1918.