Photograph

Untitled no.31; Left Right Left

2001-2002 (photographed)

Ames, Craig

Height: 41.7 cm, Width: 60.7 cm

E.281-2005 PDP

'Untitled no.31', photograph from the series 'Left Right Left', by Craig Ames, England or Cyprus, 2001-2002.

Colour photograph of soldier sitting on bed playing computer game. Fuji crystal archive matt paper mounted on to 2.5mm aluminium diabond.

Craig Ames was trained as an evidence photographer by the Royal Engineers whilst serving in the British Army. The Royal Engineers were the world's first military unit to receive formal instruction in photography. They were trained by Charles Thurston Thompson in 1856 who was the first man to be employed as a photographer by the South Kensington Museum (now the V&A). From 1989 to 1992 Craig Ames spent six months in Northern Ireland on patrol in the segregated communities of West Belfast. Periodically he would operate as an evidence photographer but due to security restrictions was only able to record this disturbing environment by concealing his 35mm camera inside his flack-jacket. This experience sparked his enthusiasm for photography and after leaving the army he went on to study for an MA in Photography at the University of Sunderland. A decade later he returned to the Army to his former regiment to re-evaluate photographically the institutionalised male environment which he had once inhabited. The result of this was a highly personal body of work, a 'fly on the wall' insight exposing the day to day life of a young soldier in the British Army today. The style of work echoes the documentary, 'snapshot-style' of his earlier photography. However these images are more considered: the intimate moments and details he selects are given an emotional charge by his own experience and evoke a strong empathy with his subject. In 2004 this work was published in book form ('Left Right Left') and also featured in a group show about contemporary British photography, 'Made in Britain' at Huis Marseille Foundation for Photography.

Purchased through the Cecil Beaton Fund

Location: Prints & Drawings Study Room, room 512M, case PX3, shelf 2

View this object on the V&A website