Ed Drew Captures the Reflections of War in His Tintype Photographs

PJ Team Helo

All images taken by and used with permission from Ed Drew.

At least one other soldier stationed in Afghanistan has been documenting a different side of war. Like Wisconsin National Guard Communications Section Chief Sean Huolihan, whose Afghanistan series was recently featured here at the Phoblographer, aerial gunner and photographer Ed Drew of the California Air National Guard also used his skills in photography to document a side of warfare that those not directly involved in it rarely see.

Unlike Huolihan, however, who’s artistic photographs, captured with his trusty Nikon D90, often contained the juxtaposing elements of serenity and combat, Drew kept his focus on his fellow soldiers, his brothers and sisters in arms, and chose to capture them with nothing less than the meticulous process of tintype.

Taking images of war is already hard enough with a DSLR, but Drew took war photography into a whole new level with his large format camera, metal plates, and portable darkbox, which he took with him during his deployment. His photographs are the first tintypes taken in a combat zone since the Civil War.

We do think, however, that it’s more than this actual process that makes his images even more fascinating. True, the classic look of the tintype process makes these images far more interesting than the usual modern war photos; but that look is almost overshadowed by what are actually in the photos – in the mostly pensive, grave, and combat-worn faces of his subjects are true reflections of war and the effect it has on those involved, good and bad.

Drew himself talks about this,

“My work isn’t to make a statement on the war, it’s a family album, where I have taken the portraits of people close to me. I purposely chose to photograph them only, to show my experience through their faces. This series was a reflection of my time in war. I think every Soldier, Airman, Marine and Sailor could agree that its not about the various opinions of what the war is and isn’t, its about our brothers and sister we stand next to. When you think of it like that, you can understand I admired them and respected them.”

This couldn’t be any truer.

See the stirring images from his tintype series in Afghanistan after the jump. For more photos from this series, please visit Drew’s website at www.eddrew.com.


Lt., CoPilot

SSgt, Pararescue 2

Capt, Pilot 2

TSgt, Support 2

SSgt, Support

Capt, CRO 3

TSgt, Gunner 2


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