The soldiers' camera
: barracks to battlefields 1974-2011

  • Stuart Griffiths

Student thesis: Doctoral Thesis


This study explores personal photographs taken by British soldiers. These unauthorized collective accounts by former soldiers give a voice to soldier’s photographs, which by definition are regimented and ordered, reflecting British soldiers’ lives, often going from one place to another, moving from training barracks to battalions, with the eventual “end game” of conflict and war. This study uncovers the soldiers’ narratives and personal photographs. Since the First World War [1914-18] the proliferation of pocket cameras has given British soldiers the freedom to photograph what they experienced. The question is not where do we find these images, but what do these photographs mean. This unique area of vernacular photography has not been acknowledged, or held agency and this study attempts to outline a soldiers’ journey from a recruit, to a soldier on the battlefield, through their personal photographs of military life. The participants in this research have been selected through call outs to veteran groups and have been invited through personal introduction. This unauthorized hypothesis of photographs taken by British soldiers date from 1974 – 2011 acknowledging a time when the British Army was transforming – regiments were being amalgamated through government cuts – and how photography was changing from analogue to digital. The principle aim of this analysis is to create agency for this unacknowledged area of war photography by understanding “war experiences” through personal snapshot photography of British soldiers. All these interviewee participants are by agreement anonymous and this study includes my own autoethnographic journey.
Date of Award15 Apr 2021
Original languageEnglish
SponsorsDepartment of Education
SupervisorKen Grant (Supervisor) & Paul Seawright (Supervisor)


  • British Army
  • British soldiers
  • Personal photography
  • Vernacular photography
  • Military discourse

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