Portraits of Soldiers Before, During, and After War

For her project titled Marked, photographer Claire Felicie shot close-up portraits of the marines in the 13th infantry company of the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps before, during, and after their deployment from 2009-2010. She then arranged the portraits into haunting triptychs that show the toll war has on a person’s eyes and face.

Marked by Claire Felicie (via lensculture)

Image credits: Photographs by Claire Felicie and used with permission

  • bob

    they look healthier during combat

  • Barbara Hughes

    I don’t know how one could tell how these people would have aged otherwise; a control group from those who remain on base in their home country? Not sure. Lots of variables in life.

  • warrymcwarrison

    The problem with these photos is that they are set up in a situation where the soldier is aware that their photo is being taken. It’s a great idea, and I truly think there is a way to do this with realistic result, but if they knew they are being photographed, they will react in a certain way (smirks, squinted eyes, etc) and this will kill the whole point of a natural look…

  • Emily Taylor

    thank you for saying what i was thinking! the smirks, and the fact that they were missing, was what i noticed first. the whole point of this was not to show off with lighting, processing, etc., it was to show the toll of war. i hope these men can find their smiles. as for this project it was beautifully done.

  • Who?

    I disagree here. I don’t see an agenda. I get the feeling that the photographer just gave one instruction and that would be to look at the camera. I have done a project before where I wanted an “emotionless” face, but in saying that you can never have an emotionless face because of subconscious reactions to what is going on. So yes they can smile when they want to but this is while they are relaxed and not showing any extremes of emotion. Emotional is a lot more sub conscious than saying “I’ll smile if I want to”.

  • Aeneid

    I disagree -they look ‘haunted’ during combat and their eyes have taken on a steely ‘quality’ in the last shot.

  • Aeneid

    Thankyou! It was with dismay that I read a later comment that says that they all look healthier in the combat photos! What?! Are you kidding me?! I agree that the last photo shows subtle but significant changes to the first photos; the light in their eyes has gone and has been replaced with a look of resignation. Amazing and simple photos that have managed to convey human emotion and hardship.

  • Dover

    You are all fish that are being hooked by a gimmick. People that have been to war do not constantly walk around looking like zombies that have just seen Rosie Odonnell naked. They have good days and bad days. Good moments and bad moments. They smile, laugh, sneer and smirk, just like everybody else. The photographer had an agenda and forced it to come out in her favor. It’s as simple as that.

  • Jeanice Barcelo

    There is a blackness to the eyes in each of the after photos — as if the soul has largely departed. This is particularly vivid in the first set of photos, where you can clearly see the light in his eyes in the before picture, and the look of dull shock in the after picture.

    Prayers for these men.

  • closecall

    …obvious troll is obvious. Guys, don’t feed the trolls.

  • closecall

    The last time I checked, no one in north america, or western europe is FORCED to go into war/enlist in the army. They chose to enlist. If they didn’t know what they were getting into, as Lostboy would have us believe then it is they that are the real retards.

  • Abir Agrawal

    How can you judge the entire psychology of a person based on just one Photograph. He must be having both good and bad moods both before and after the war. What if the before pic was taken when the mood was good and the after pic when the mood was bad??

  • Erin Fitzsimm

    I completely agree. I could see immediatly adeadness in their eyes in the final photo. It’s quite upsetting to look at these photos. Lives forever changed.

  • Dave

    Don’t be alarmed (are you really alarmed?). What other people including myself are trying to point out is that the photographers agenda has been forced. It is very simplistic to assume that soldiers that have experienced war can no longer have a smile or smirk on their faces. They can NO LONGER be happy. They must spend the rest of their lives with a thousand yard stare and blank, soul-less expression. Please give them some credit. I know people that have been to war and back and they do not have these lost looks on their faces 24/7. The photographer had an agenda, her subjects knew there would be before, during and after photos, and, consciously or not, performed for her. You act (emphasis on ‘act’) aghast, but you are selling the average soldier short by thinking that they can no longer be normal after war. As I said, I know people that suffer from severe ptsd and they still find time to laugh, smirk, frown, cry. On the whole, this project is just barely this side of being staged. And you folks are biting the hook like a carp.

  • Robert Rood

    I think people who have no experience with (either directly or through people they know) war or other tramatic and stressfull situations that are continuos over months and years do not “see” the changes. This also has to do with most people do not have a keen preception of detail. I have several years in Iraq and looking back at pictures of myself and friends who served with me I can see very destinct differences. This is why U.S. Presidents look like they aged 10yrs after 4, look at Obama and Clinton, very noticable.
    WIth war/combat experience it can be seen in the eyes, before they are carefree and innocent, during they are “open” seeing many things for the first time and trying to process the experience, after they are darker, maybe wiser, sinical to some extent, hardened.
    The same way that most people walk by a guy standing on the street corner a street cop can size him up from a block away and tell you with a high degree of accuracy if they guys been to jail, carrying a weapon, on drugs and if they are a threat or not. This is not something everyone instinctively preceives but with a bit of instruction the majority can become very accurate. It’s reading people, you can see what they have done and what they are thinking, it’s an art not a science but it’s there.
    To me these photos are striking, I do not have “clinical” pictures of myself (they are from different distances, angles, lighting etc) when someone takes the time to document in this manner (to me) it’s very perceivable.

  • Edward

    Richard Avedon said photos do not reveal reality, they lie. they are but a brief moment in time which the photographer chooses to capture, and display according to his/her vision. expressions change within a fraction of a second, an absent look becomes intense, or vice versa. The intention for these photos for me misses any significant impact.