Jacket Image

Enlarge Image

220 × 190 × 20 mm
216 pages
120 illustrations, 100 in colour
16 Sep 2019

Photography and War Pippa Oldfield

There are countless books on war photography, most of these focusing on dramatic images made by photojournalists in combat zones. Photography and War instead proposes a radically expanded notion of war photography, one that encompasses a far broader terrain of geographies, chronologies, practices and viewpoints. Pippa Oldfied considers photography’s fundamental role in military reconnaissance, propaganda and protest, exposure of war crimes, and the memorialisation of war, among other themes. While iconic images by well-known names such as Roger Fenton and Robert Capa are included, the viewpoints of people who have historically been overlooked - women and photographers from diasporic and non-Western backgrounds - are forcefully present. As a result, this book offers a nuanced and more inclusive understanding of war as a far-reaching undertaking in which anyone might be implicated and affected. Richly illustrated, with some photos published for the first time, this book offers an accessible and well-rounded introduction to photography’s perhaps most contested, complex and emotive subject.

‘'This is not a book about famous war photographers and their heroic attempts to cover global conflicts. Photography and War is a monumental study of what conflict photographs do and have done globally since 1839 to the present day . . . Photography and War destabilises traditional notions of war photography, including a wide range of materials that are often overlooked in the canon . . . The result is a fascinating, incisive study that leaves the reader wanting to know more . . . a brilliant book and an excellent resource for all photographic historians.’ — Photographica World

Photography and War is an important contribution to the thematic historiography of conflict photography. It is also the latest addition to Exposures, Reaktion's excellent series of books dealing with the history of photography . . . Oldfield is to be congratulated on her efforts to reference lesser-known conflicts and diverse perspectives within the book . . . She also, correctly, highlights the highly problematic nature of truth in war photography . . .recommended reading for anyone wishing to explore the fascinations and frustrations of war photography in all its forms.’ — Source

‘A thorough and perceptive exploration of both medium and message. Oldfield considers the imagery, purpose, means of dissemination and audience for war photography, examining its role as document, tool of propagandists and memorial, while also focusing on the relationship between technology and the military. Essential reading.’ — Sophie Wright, Global Cultural Director, Magnum Photos

‘This penetrating survey of war photography is captivating and necessary to give us an understanding of the many facets of this genre. Oldfield shows us how the technology and the use of the photographic image evolved through history to serve the lies of the propagandist and the truth of the witness, becoming in some cases a weapon in itself. This book is a must-read for anyone interested in war reportage or who wants to know the story behind the representation of conflict in all its forms.’ — Antony Penrose, Co-director, The Lee Miller Archives

‘A vivid, perceptive enquiry into how and why photography and war have been so closely intertwined from the mid-1800s onwards. Important issues and debates are examined in compelling detail, affording today’s reader a rich understanding of historical evolutions in photographic form and practice, and why these transformations matter for current efforts to reimagine war photography anew. Highly recommended.’ — Stuart Allan, author of Citizen Witnessing

Show all

Pippa Oldfield is a historian and photography curator who has worked on many exhibitions on the theme of photography and war. She is Head of Programme at Impressions Gallery in Bradford, Honorary Research Fellow at Durham University, and Visiting Research Fellow at University of Leeds.


one Despatches from the Combat Zone
two Military Vision
three Home Fronts
four Secrets and Exposures
five Legacies

Select Bibliography
Photo Acknowledgements