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Durham University

School of Modern Languages & Cultures


The Business of War Photography: Producing and Consuming Images of Conflict

Panel 1: Contemporary Currencies 

Simon Faulkner (Manchester Metropolitan University), ‘The Photographic Collective and the Market: The Case of ActiveStills in Israel/Palestine’

Discussing the role of photojournalists in demonstrations in East Jerusalem, the Italian photographer Ruben Salvadori has suggested that the photojournalism industry demands particular kinds of images of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that ‘break down a complex situation in just one photo’ and force photographers ‘to use stereotypes.’ Similarly, the Israeli photographer Miki Kratsman has referred to the business relationship between photographers and picture agencies as something that has resulted in a situation where photographers ‘all shoot the same.’ This understanding that the market produces visual clichés has led to calls, from commentators and photographers alike, for the production of photographs that break with stereotypical imagery and allow for different perspectives on the conflict.

This paper responds to such concerns through the consideration of the Israel/Palestine-based photographic collective ActiveStills. Although individual members of this group sell photographs to newspapers and agencies, they also work collectively in ways that allow them a greater degree of freedom in how they represent the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Based on interviews with members of ActiveStills, the paper will explore the complex relationship between their collective work and market defined practices of conflict photography, considering the ways that their photographs depart from or appear to reinforce stereotypical representations. In particular the paper will examine the ActiveStills online archive that constitutes the key product of their collective work. This thematically organized collection of images often reproduces the motifs generated by the photojournalistic market, but also provides a more sustained documentation of ongoing situations and political struggles. In the context of the archive, apparently clichéd and repetitive images of the conflict take on meanings that exceed those of market defined media representations.


Rhys Crilley (University of Birmingham), ‘Like and Share Forces: The British Army, Images and the Clean War Narrative on Facebook’

Despite recent developments in the ways people communicate through social media online, the discipline of International Relations has given little thought to how Facebook, and other social media platforms more broadly, affect the subject matter of the field. In contrast, military organisations have been quick to recognise the importance of using these technologies and military Facebook pages are amongst some of the most popular ‘politics’ Facebook pages on the planet.

These military Facebook pages are popular and they all feature a large amount of visual media. In light of this, this paper aims to go some way in developing an understanding of how ‘western’ militaries are using Facebook and what impact this is having on security and legitimacy in the 21st century. I argue that due to the highly visual nature of these military social media pages we cannot begin to make sense of them without paying greater attention to the role of aesthetic mediums in global politics.

I argue that aesthetics, specifically images, are now an essential part of military social media pages and are used to claim legitimacy for violence. This paper provides a framework for analysing military social media pages that will then be applied to the case study of the British Army on Facebook. Attention is paid to the concept of strategic communication in relation to three sites; image production/circulation, the images themselves and the audience reception of these images. In conclusion I highlight the implications of military social media use, arguing that the British Army’s Facebook page exists as a contemporary form of militarization where images permeate the everyday life of those who ‘like’, ‘share’ and view the content online.


Simon Ward (Durham University), ‘Archiving Modern Conflict: The Art and Business of Curating War Photography’

The Archive of Modern Conflict was established 20 years ago in London and contains around 4 million photos. It started as a collection of images depicting aspects of war, pulled together from diverse sources by a group of collectors in London. The Archive of Modern Conflict is particularly interesting in that its primary ‘public’ face is created by a series of publications, which curate and exhibit the vernacular materials gathered in the collection. These publications are set alongside the work of the Berlin-based artist Martin Dammann, who, as well as engaging with vernacular photography from the Second World War in his institutionally-recognized artistic work (watercolours, but also often oversize photographic reproductions), also works as a collector for the Archive of Modern Conflict. The paper examines the intersections between the archive’s activities and Dammann’s own working processes, analysing the business of collecting such war photography, and looks at Dammann’s exhibition practice (i.e. how such vernacular war photography is displayed in gallery space and also in publications) and the commercial networks that distribute Dammann’s work, and what role ‘war photography’ plays in that business.


Melanie Friend (Artist, University of Sussex), ‘The Home Front’ (on display at Durham Art Gallery, Gallery One)

From the distant silhouette of a Lancaster bomber glimpsed over a British seaside resort, to the hidden world of global arms trade fairs, The Home Front explores links between militarism, marketing and entertainment. In this introduction to her major new exhibition, made over four years, Friend discusses her inspiration and thinking behind the project.

The Home Front is a set of three related photographic series that together explore the civilian experience of war, with a particular focus on public air shows that take place at Royal Air Force bases, and in the skies above seaside resorts. The first series depicts expansive beachscapes that are temporarily militarised by the fleeting roar of fighter jets, whilst children and holidaymakers look up from below. Nostalgia for the Second World War is evoked by the display of ‘warbirds’ such as the Lancaster Bomber, whilst contemporary jets such as the Tornado, recently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, are also showcased. 

The second series reveals the on-ground attractions of air shows. Frequently billed as a fun day out for the family, Friend captures the humour and unease in scenes of visitors taking tank rides, handling weapons, or trying on military uniforms. These air shows also offer opportunities for military recruitment and the commemoration of past conflicts. 

In the third series, Friend offers a rare glimpse into the environments of international arms fairs and air show trade days, usually off-limits to the general public. Her photographs depict how military technology and services are marketed and sold, from the latest drone aircraft and gold-plated automatic weapons, through to special effects for simulated battle wounds.

Friend asserts ‘there is a clear disconnect between the enjoyment of war technologies as leisure and entertainment, and the actual effect of weapons. I’m interested in examining our complicity as civilians with the wars our government undertakes, and uncovering how war is normalised’.

The Home Front is a touring exhibition from Impressions Gallery, Bradford, curated by Pippa Oldfield.

Panel 2: Magazines and Photojournalism 

Beth E. Wilson (SUNY College at New Paltz), ‘World War II and the Corporate Creation of the Photojournalist’

The cultural figure of the intrepid photojournalist first began to emerge in the 1930s, as seen in the early, self-invented careers of photographers such as Robert Capa and Margaret Bourke-White. (The OED cites the first usage of the term in an article by Alfred Eisenstaedt published in 1938.) But the cultural stereotype of the romantic, fearless photojournalist, flying from one hotspot to the next did not become a popular cultural icon until the global conflict of World War II, when this figure rose to prominence against backdrop of the biggest, most complex news story in the history of mankind.

The rise of the public persona of the photojournalist did not spontaneously arise from the spectacular stories covered by the photographers themselves: the archetype crystallised in the public imagination as the product of the newly emerging, image-driven mass media, for which such brave, idealised individuals functioned as a particularly exciting, attractive face for the corporate brand.

In this paper I will examine the process by which the paradigmatic example of Life magazine came to systematically articulate the new cultural figure of the photojournalist, a nascent process in the late 1930s that was markedly catalysed by the advent of World War II. By cannily leveraging the publicity value of (primarily) a handful of star photographers, corporate publishers like Henry Luce’s Time-Life and others firmly established this new cultural archetype in the public eye, at times with the willing cooperation of (Capa, Bourke-White) and at times resisted or ignored by (Gene Smith, Lee Miller) the photographers themselves. Beyond these better-known examples, I will contrast the day-to-day reality experienced by the many less celebrated photographers, those who toiled at the bottom of the corporate food chain and who rarely met with the public acclaim/commodification of their famous peers. In the end, I hope to provide a sketch of the various vested personal interests and the corporate power structures entwined in the process of creating the popular icon of the photojournalist, as this took place against the compelling backdrop of the war.


Yining He (Writer, Curator of Go East Project), ‘Insights into Chinese War Photography: Studying Pictorial Magazines of the Chinese Communist Party’

Critical responses to Chinese war photography have focused extensively on its role in the party’s propaganda in order to win hearts and minds across China regarding military action. Little has been written on fundamental questions regarding how supply and demand of pictorial magazines shaped the field of Chinese war photography.

From the 1920s onwards after the decline of the Qing Empire, a group of Chinese intellectuals, educators and social reformers realized the power of images. Then during the Sino-Japanese War, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) produced numerous pictorial magazines in the Liberated Zone, using powerful photography to document the state of the nation and its society.

By looking at the history of three main CCP pictorial magazines (Jinchaji Pictorial, Huabei Pictorial, and The People’s Liberation Army Pictorial) we can address the following questions: How did war pictorial magazines start in China? What were the CCP military strategies which underpinned their production? Who were the photographers for these publications? Who were the purchasers and consumers? What was the role of war pictorial magazines in commissioning, shaping and circulating photographic images? What was the difference between the pictorial magazines run by the CCP and by the Chinese Nationalist Party (CNP)? How did the CCP influence and shape the Chinese photography industry under Mao times?

Based on intensive collaborative research on the history of Chinese war pictorial magazines over last five years, this paper will examine the historical, social and visual discourse of the Chinese war photography industry by exploring the relationships between the publishers, politicians, workers, purchasers and consumers.


Lívia Bonadio (Telegraph Magazine), ‘Negotiating Conflict Imagery’

On 26 October 2013 the Telegraph Magazine published a feature entitled ‘Shots that shook the world’, in which Mick Brown interviewed five photographers whose coverage of the ongoing conflict in Syria has been widely acclaimed: Goran Tomasevic, Nicole Tung, Jerome Sessini, Lynsey Addario and Laurent van der Stockt. What the readers could not know was that, following a whole day of negotiations, one of the images was replaced at the eleventh hour as the magazine’s budget meant it was unable to meet one photo agency’s proposed fee.

The changes in the news industry, particularly over the last decade, have forced newspapers and, consequently, their supplement magazines to work on considerably tighter budgets. Although indispensable, flat-rate deals with newswires and picture agencies have been a determinant in setting lower photography fees; publications will opt to use images available from their subscription packages over other more expensive photography syndication agencies whenever possible.

There has always been a discrepancy in the allocation of funds and, despite the substantial cuts, fashion commissions and celebrity imagery can still reach exorbitant amounts, whilst coverage of wars may rely heavily on negotiation and goodwill. Considering the loss of so many bright journalists and photographers in recent conflicts, what are the implications of continuing to undervalue their contribution?

Scholars have long debated photography’s exploration of human suffering and the effects of war-porn voyeurism, whilst criticising the mainstream media for offering biased and inefficient reports that are either too sanitised or too grotesque. Inasmuch as these are valid arguments, most fail to consider that what readers finally see is the product of a number of factors, involving politics, advertisers, budget, personal taste and the space available within a publication’s pages.

As we adapt ourselves to the new media landscape and digital journalism, there is an opportunity to open the debate and reconsider the financial mediation behind the publication of images of conflicts, by exploring the real context in which the value of a photograph is defined and finding suitable alternatives.

Panel 3: Professional Photographers & Wartime Markets  

Pippa Oldfield (Durham University), ‘From Flowers to Firing Squads: Sara Castrejón’s Portrait Studio in the Mexican Revolution, 1910 – 1920’

The genre of war photography has come to be defined as an idealistic and masculine endeavour, undertaken by photojournalists who risk their lives at the frontline. Historically, women’s gendered positions have curtailed their access to participation in this mode of image-making. As a result, notwithstanding a handful of exceptional female photojournalists, women’s work is largely absent from conventional anthologies of war photographs.

A broader conception of war photography is therefore necessary to acknowledge the many diverse alternative ways in which women participate within an expanded field of photography and conflict. My paper addresses this gap by examining a little-known portrait studio owned and operated by Sara Castrejón in Teloloapán, a small provincial town in southern Mexico, during the Mexican Revolution of 1910-1920. Notwithstanding an important biographical study (Samuel Villela, 2010), Castrejón’s work has yet to be more fully examined within the terrain of war and gender.

Taking as a starting point Castrejón’s striking portrait of a condemned man before execution by firing squad, I examine accepted gendered modes of professional photography for women in Mexico in the early twentieth century. I consider the ways in which the pragmatic demands of running a business shaped Castrejón’s photographic practice during the years of conflict, arguing that the special conditions of the Revolution enlarged possibilities for women’s participation in the sphere of war. Responding to new markets and military pressures, Castrejón’s conventional studio work expanded to encompass hundreds of portraits of soldiers and generals, as well as records of encampments, martial exercises, signing of treaties, military funerals, and records of firing squad executions, most probably made by official command.

I argue that Castrejón’s status as a professional photographer granted her otherwise restricted access to scenes of military and political operations, enabling her to became a public figure within Teloloapán’s theatre of war and central chronicler within the historical record. By mapping the distance travelled, literally and figuratively, from the studio interior to the exterior site of the firing squad, I demonstrate how women’s work and roles can be transformed by conflict, and show how Castrejón’s practice traverses and complicates the boundaries between the presumed feminine inward-looking sphere of studio portraiture, and the purported masculine arena of war photography.


Olli Kleemola (University of Turku), ‘Finnish War Photographer A. G. Salonen and his Impact on the Photo-Albums of Finnish Soldiers in the Continuation War 1941–1944’

As the Continuation War between Finland and Soviet Union broke out in June 1941, photographing in the war zone became subject to licence. Every soldier wanting to pho-tograph at the front—apart from those serving in the propaganda troops—had to apply for a personal licence and submit their pictures to superior officers for inspection and censorship. With cameras being far from something that everyone could afford, an unofficial market for photographs developed relatively fast in the Finnish army after the war broke out. One of the most significant photo sellers in the Finnish Army was a professional photographer, private Antti Gunnar Salonen. Salonen owned a photo studio in Kotka, Finland, and with the help of his wife, he ensured his family’s living standards during the Continuation War by selling his own photographs to Finnish front soldiers as contact prints as well as postcards. Salonen naturally had his photographs regularly inspected by the war censorship as his activity developed into notable dimensions.

In my presentation I discuss two main questions: What role did commerciality play in Pte Salonen’s photographs? How popular were they among ordinary Finnish soldiers and what impact the photographs had on soldiers’ view on war?

My study belongs to the field of Visual History which uses images both as independent primary sources for and as objects of historical research alike. The key idea of Visual History is to highlight that pictures are not just illustrative decoration but transfer information and cultural stereotypes as much as textual sources.


Anthony Penrose (Lee Miller Archives): ‘Lee Miller and British Vogue

During the Second World War, British commercial publishers were subjected to rigorous state controls. These were applied in various forms: ideological, practical, overt and covert. The Ministry of Production controlled paper supplies while the Ministry of Information (MoI) shaped news, public information and propaganda. Newspaper and magazine editors were forced to reduce content and sacrifice print quality, while simultaneously ‘doing their bit’ for the war effort. This required them to prioritise MoI campaigns in their commissions to contributors and find substitutes for established contributors, including photographers, who were serving with the armed forces. In such circumstances, imagination and flexibility were vital for commercial survival.

Women's magazines, regarded by the MoI as a vital communications channel, were no exception. This paper will explore the response of the renowned fashion and lifestyle magazines British Vogue to the war, its symbiotic relationship with the MoI and the consequences as manifested in the photography of Lee Miller, one of the most important female photographers of the war in Britain and Europe.

British Vogue editor Audrey Withers stated that Miller's work gave the magazine a new and important relevance in war time, but was Vogue's support of Miller's reportage genuinely patriotic, expediency for remaining in business, or a subtle combination of both?

British Vogue was of particular importance to the MoI. As a Conde Nast publication, versions of its content were frequently published in American Vogue and in addition this link appears to have facilitated introductions to other media outlets.

This paper will argue that an examination of Miller’s wartime work suggests that the collaboration between Vogue and the MoI went further than the magazine’s editorial and that its impact was both international and critical to Britain’s wartime survival.

Panel 4: Photographic Industries 

Colin Harding (National Media Museum, UK), ‘How the British Photographic Industry Reacted to the Outbreak of War in 1914’

In the third quarter of the nineteenth century, the British photographic industry regarded itself as pre-eminent in the world in terms of scale, quality and innovation. However, by the end of the century it was facing increasing competition from abroad. America now led the way in the large scale manufacture of photographic equipment and sensitised materials – as epitomised by George Eastman who had opened a Kodak factory in England in the early 1890s. Britain was also facing increasing competition from continental Europe – in particular from Germany who’s chemical and optical industries were markedly superior to Britain’s. Many of the cameras sold in Britain at the beginning of the nineteenth century were made in America or fitted with lenses made in Germany. The chemicals that formed the basis of sensitised materials or were used in the darkroom were also likely to have come from Germany.

The outbreak of war posed a threat to the British photographic industry from the disruption of trade and lack of raw materials. However, it was quickly realised that war also presented an opportunity to redress the balance in favour of British industry by removing foreign competition and stimulating innovation in a market freed from normal market forces. It was promoted as a patriotic duty not only to boycott German goods during the war but to continue to do so even after the cessation of hostilities. However, once peace had been declared, would consumers still ‘buy British’ when tempted with cheaper, and often better, foreign (even German-made) products?


Patricia A. Nelson (European Institute of Japanese Studies, Stockholm School of Economics), ‘The Impact of War on Photographic Companies in Japan and Germany’

Photographic companies in Japan and Germany share several characteristics, one of which is the palpable impact of wars in the 20th century. In this paper, I address from the perspective of the companies the impact of war in three areas. First is the early technological development in the industry in particular the contributions of German firms with the modern, hand-held camera and high quality optics. This knowledge was imported into Japan in the early 1900s by various means when the First World War interrupted supplies of German cameras and, especially, lenses to Japan. Second, I trace the evolution of the industry during the Second World War taking into account the influence of government policy that directed companies to produce military-use photographic technologies. Without the benefit of radar in the Axis countries, optics enjoyed continuous technological improvement in addition to favour from the German and Japanese military governments. Finally, I analyse the post World War Two developments in the industry including government economic recovery policy that spurred peacetime expansion of the industry. In this light, sales of photographic equipment to military personnel stationed in occupied Japan and Germany played an important role. Regional wars in Asia including the Korean War and the Vietnam War affected world trade such that professional war photographers substituted German products with Japanese ones. Their positive reviews of Japanese technology helped shape what became a predominantly favourable opinion of Japanese goods, which in the early post war years were considered inferior to German products. Although much of the early technological influence in the photographic industry travelled from Germany to Japan, in the latter half of the 20th century the direction reversed in, for example, the incorporation of advanced materials and electronics into production processes. War and its impact were perhaps the most influential in that reversal.


Rachel Snow (University of South Carolina Upstate), ‘Photography’s Second Front: Kodak’s "Serving Human Progress" Campaign’

During the First and Second World Wars, the Eastman Kodak Company’s institutional advertising campaign “Serving Human Progress through Photography” aimed at building consumer loyalty and a positive corporate image. Touting the superiority of Kodak-made technology, which was depicted as the essence of American military might, these advertisements also explained how Kodak would serve the civilian consumer market after the war. Such advertisements legitimized not only Kodak, but the idea of the corporation as an indispensable public institution, allied with the government in times of war and crisis. War, though presenting important challenges to Kodak, proved an opportune time to harness the expertise of the advertising industry to cement long-term relationships with the American public and to secure the most valuable outcome of all, loyalty to the idea of a corporatized photographic culture. In times of war, Kodak shrewdly attended not only to selling goods and services, but also to selling itself, an American institution, a corporation in the service of nation. Institutional advertising of the sort exemplified by the “Serving Human Progress” campaign emerged in the early twentieth century, and, though it is now deeply entrenched as a fundamental public relations strategy, at the time of this campaign, it was an experiment, one which was undertaken by many large businesses in the United States. Collectively, these advertisements sought to influence public opinion about capitalism and corporatization at a time when this ideological framework was under threat. Institutional advertising does not appeal to consumers to buy specific products or services; rather, it treats marketing as a form of public education. This made institutional advertising a perfect fit for Kodak. Since its earliest days, the company viewed marketing as a tool to educate the consuming public about the ease and benefits of amateur photography. Therefore, it makes perfect sense that Kodak turned to institutional advertising to educate the public about its wartime research and business, which remained healthy due to substantial military contracts. This paper examines Kodak’s “Serving Human Progress through Photography” campaign in relation to its historical context and shows how it emphasized themes of nationalism and progress through technology.

Panel 5: Marketing Images of Destruction 

Sandra Camarda (University of Luxembourg), ‘Dreadful Like a Postcard: Portraying War and Destruction in Illustrated Postcards of Luxembourg (1914–1918)’

During the Great War the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg, small leaf of land in the heart of Europe, is a neutral country. Occupied by the Germans for its strategic position, efficient railway network and steel mills, Luxembourg becomes a primary target of the Allied Forces. As the bombs fall on the cities destroying houses and killing civilians, the local photographers rush to the locations to take several shots of the ruins, which are immediately printed and distributed as illustrated postcards within a few hours from the events. Eagerly sought‐after, the images of shelled buildings, blown‐up bridges and debris display an aesthetic of war and destruction that stresses the theme of the violated homeland, perpetuating the perception of the enemy as the barbaric destructor of heritage. The onset of the Great War in 1914 has coincided with the so‐called ‘golden age’ of the illustrated postcard with this representing a major way of communication between home and the battlefields, as well as a means to rapidly diffuse information and bring attention to specific historical events. Manufactured and distributed by the single local photographer or by a wider network of publishers and retailers, postcards enjoyed great popularity and were either sent to family and friends or privately collected in special dedicated albums as mementos of public celebrations and happenings. Whereas illustrated postcards are traditionally associated with pleasant images of sweeping panoramas and cityscapes (to a point that the idiomatic expression ‘like a postcard’ is commonly used to describe images of particular idyllic beauty), a striking abundance of wartime cards have portrayed the destruction of cities and villages in the aftermath of the bombings. Employing as a case‐study a collection of historical postcards of Luxembourg the contribution aims at analysing how commercial images of war ruins have been produced, circulated and collected, generating cultural narratives and fostering ideas of social cohesion, resistance and national identity.


Jedge Pilbrow (University of Brighton), ‘Positioning the Sniper Photograph’

Recent wars in Iraq and Afghanistan have been extensively photographed from what are essentially two distinctive viewpoints. The first takes the perspective of the dominant political and military agencies. Photographs that are disseminated through official sources and compliant media channels seek to reinforce messages of neoliberal intervention including moral obligations of governance, the rigorous adherence to the legalities proscribed by international bodies and the sanitisation of war through the extensive use of technologies (see, for example, L. Freedman, ‘The Age of Liberal Wars’, Review of International Studies, 31 (2005), pp. 93-107).

The second perspective is far more immediate and personal; it deals with individual experiences of local events during war. These photographs are generally either endorsed through embedded journalism or they are unsanctioned records taken by serving soldiers and independent journalists. Although predominantly benign in terms of their content, as Abu Ghraib and other images of atrocity have graphically demonstrated, unsanctioned photographs can have a profoundly disruptive impact to received narratives. The convergence of digital technologies such as camera phones and helmet cameras has ensured that every soldier on a contemporary battlefield is potentially carrying not only a photographically enabled device, but quite possibly a means of instantaneous dissemination.

 One area where all the competing narratives appear to converge is very specific as it concerns the continued use of snipers on the battlefield by coalition forces. Veneration of the arsenal of technology that features so prominently in the official archives is mirrored by the recognition and acknowledgement of the individual that dominate the personal archives of the vernacular. The spatial discrepancy of high tech warfare and the soldier on the ground is adjusted by matching the skill of the individual with the immense range of the weapon. However, this coalescence of perspectives still fails to offer a unified view of the nature of contemporary war and the confusion that ensues discerned in media coverage of the practices of snipers. The atrocity (vernacular) photographs that have entered the public sphere all have one thing in common; they are the photographs of human encounter. They are photographs of visceral proximity as opposed to photographs of technology, distance and anonymity.

 Sniper photographs bridge this gap between the technology and the individual. Snipers are both lauded and reviled in the press, the photographs that depict their craft are either condemned as evidence of atrocity perpetrated by the individual or they are presented as paragons of national pride in league tables that resemble achievements in sport. This paper examines the uses of photography to portray the contradictory role of snipers and sniping as individual noble endeavour and heinous crime. 


Kevin Hamilton & Ned O’Gorman (University of Illinois): ‘The Business of Timing: Lookout Mountain Laboratory, EG&G, and Temporal Logics of Cold War Photography’

We are accustomed to thinking of the cold war, that great bi-polar global conflict, as having been contested according to spatial logics. However, America’s cold war was also fought according to temporal logics: indeed, time and timing as much as spatial defenses, assaults, and retreats were central to American cold war strategy and hegemony. American strategists were constantly trying to gain the upper hand by timing, precisely, their moves against adversaries, or—as in the strategy of containment—trying to stretch time into the indefinite future.

If maps were the archetypal technology of cold war spatial logics, photographs, we want to argue, were the archetypal technology of its temporal logics. Most basically, photographs froze time in an image; but more profoundly, photographs were technologies of timing, allowing time to be coordinated, circulated, and manipulated (expanded or collapsed) for cold war purposes.

Our paper considers one critical site of cold war timing, the collaboration between an Air Force photographic squadron based in Hollywood in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s—“Lookout Mountain Laboratory”—and the military contractor Edgerton, Germehausen, and Grier (EG&G), one of the most important contractors in the U.S.’s cold war nuclear weapons program. EG&G served as both its chief contractor for high-speed photography and as the designer of new timing mechanisms that would detonate nuclear devices in the proving grounds of the Pacific and Nevada.

In our paper, we will look at the collaboration of Lookout Mountain and EG&G in the 1940s and 50s, focusing on their cold war photography as products of the timing business. As in part a propaganda outfit, Lookout Mountain worked within the coordination, circulation, and manipulation of cold war timing, producing images meant to variously inform, inspire, attest, and overawe governmental and non-governmental audiences. As a military contractor whose specialty was remote control firing and high speed photography, EG&G was occupied with overcoming, by technological means, timing problems. Thus Lookout Mountain and EG&G’s close collaboration gives us an opportunity to consider the business of war photography as an enterprise in timing. 


The Business of War Photography conference is presented in association with the Centre for Visual Arts and Culture at Durham University, in partnership with Durham Light Infantry Museum & Durham Art Gallery and Impressions Gallery, Bradford. Concessionary rates for postgraduate students are supported by a grant from the Royal Historical Society.