Roger Fenton – Hardships in the camp, 1855

This image is named ‘hardships in the camp’ it was taken by Roger Fenton during the Crimean war in 1855. This image, like many of Fenton’s war images, portrays a feeling of calm and doesn’t really reflect the horrors of war. This image, along with Fenton’s others, were believed to be a true representation of the war. People felt photographs showed a reality, as they caught a moment in time and they weren’t an artist’s interpretation. This meant they were seen as the truth. I can see how people would have thought this, however considering the photographic technology that was available then, it is more than likely this image was staged, as exposures were long. Also even photographs are an interpretation, the interpretation of the photographer. The person behind the camera chooses what is visible in the image, so they choose the message that is shown to the viewer.

This image shows soldiers waiting, having a drink, and relaxing. No one in the image seems particularly anxious or worried, through there body language. Something you feel you would see in someone in the middle of a war. Having a purely media influenced perception of war, I don’t know what it is truly like. However, I feel this image isn’t an accurate representation of war. It is too calm. It shows war on a par with having afternoon tea, something even I know it is not. This image gives the viewer the impression war is easy. This representation of war may have to do the fact the war was very unpopular with the British, and the secretary of state for war and queen Victoria, who sent him to photograph the war, wanted to change opinion. (15/11/12)

Liz Wells, Photography, A Critical Introduction, fourth edition, page 86


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