Photographer-soldier used Civil War-era technique to document troops in Afghanistan

By Claudine Zap

While deployed to the Helmand Province in Afghanistan from April through June of this year, photographer and California Air National Guard aerial gunner Ed Drew asked his fellow soldiers to sit for portraits.

The result — an astonishing mix of a modern war and an old technique called tintypes — created a unique look at the war zone and the people involved in it. They are the first tintype combat-zone photography since the Civil War, according to the Daily Mail.

But the nearly forgotten art form has been expertly undertaken by the San Francisco Art Institute student of photography and sculpture. "Tintypes are a slow and methodical process, which I felt would best highlight the humanity of the people I work with," Drew told Yahoo News in an email, in explaining his choice of techniques.

The process was painstaking, and the artist always had to be a solider first. "Each one took about 30 to 40 minutes to make," Drew told Yahoo News, "And was always contingent on not getting a rescue mission, which means I would have to immediately drop whatever I was doing and be in the air with my crew in less than 10 minutes."

As his peers began to see the portraits take shape, they began booking appointments. "These photos are about people, not about the military or glorifying war, and it seems people really are picking that up," said Drew.