Artist An-My Lê, who lived through the Vietnam War, focuses her lens on the intricacies of armed conflict.
Smoke pours from an airplane downed in a remote wilderness. The body of the pilot dangles from the cockpit. Two soldiers crouch by the hull; one barks into a satellite telephone, the second scans the trees for enemy snipers, gun ready. Other members of the unit fan out, taking up defensive positions.
This super sharp black-and-white photograph wasn’t snapped during the thick of battle. Instead it captures a group of Vietnam War reenactors in rural Virginia. When photographer and filmmaker An-My Lê made the image for her series Small Wars (1999–2002), she asked the men to pause mid-action so she could duck under the cloak of her wooden, bellows view camera. First manufactured in the 1920s, the five-by-seven Deardorff field camera requires time for setup and exposure.