Author(s): Robert J. Wilson
Robert Wilson, a commercial photographer, was invited by the Brigadier in command of the 52nd Infantry Brigade to commemorate the brigade's six month tour of duty.
They had been leading the British task force in the southern Afghanistan war zone. Robert was invited as a war artist not as a photographer and in his two weeks with the troops he produced some extraordinary pictures of British forces under the pressure of conflict. The work consists of portraits of the troops, including several of women soldiers, portraits of Afghans and pictures of the bases and daily life. There are a number of views of the landscape, especially from the air. Finally there is the first record of a repatriation ceremony to mark the return of the body of a British marine in a flag-draped coffin on board a Hercules aircraft.
The difference in this work is that it was made using a Hasselblad camera and tripod or a large Cannon. These are the tools of an advertising photographer. The size of the files is so large the pictures could be blown up to billboard scale. Though the pictures are harrowing in many cases - the soldiers' exhaustion is explicit - they are also beautiful. The intelligence behind the work creates disquiet, appropriate for a modern laptop war, in contrast to the grainy conventions of photojournalism.
They constitute a very important war document.
Robert J. Wilson is a leading commercial photographer with Nike and Addidas campaigns to his credit. He lives in London and works worldwide.