Whiskey Tango Foxtrot is the symbolic title of Ashley Gilbertson’s 2007 publication which chronicles, through photographs, his experiences documenting the Iraq War. Gilbertson has come a long way since his earliest forays into camera work as a teenager capturing the habits of his skateboarding peers. In his twenties, he was commissioned to visit Northern Iraq and has returned there on many occasions during the conflict.
His portfolio showcases a skill set as eclectic and varied as his subject matter, with portraits, New York City and military life all featuring as standalone projects. Their common thread? An exposure of the therapeutic potential of photography which is one of Gilbertson’s fundamental motivations.
Following are some of his images from his time in Iraq between 2002 – 2008, offering a fascinating introduction to his more recent work Bedrooms Of The Fallen – a series of images which capture the personal spaces – frozen in time – of service members who died in Afghanistan and Iraq. This collection can be seen in The New York Times Magazine, and won Gilbertson the documentary photography award.
Image reproduced courtesy of Ashley Gilbertson.
An American military policemen photographs a dead Mahdi Army fighter in Karbala on May 6, 2004. The insurgency in Iraq is rarely seen, usually ducking in and out of vision of the soldiers, and when one is captured or killed the soldiers are curious to see the human face of their enemy. Image reproduced courtesy of Ashley Gilbertson.
Soldiers from Red Platoon, 1-26 Infantry company, 2nd BCT, 1st I.D. patrol Southern Samarra, Iraq on October 3, 2004. Civilians who venture outside carry prominent white flags to identify themselves as non combatants. Image reproduced courtesy of Ashley Gilbertson.
A Black Hawk helicopter carring an American General momentarily blocks the sun of a group of Polish soldiers tanning themselves on a base in Karbala, Iraq on May 3, 2004. The American military were forced to fight for control of Karbala after Muqtada al-Sadr’s Mahdi army overwhelmed the unwilling coalition partner, Poland. Image reproduced courtesy of Ashley Gilbertson.
Marines from Bravo company, 1st Battalion, 8th Marine Regiment detain an insurgent after they shot him and his two comrades in the neighborhood nicknamed “Queens” during the battle for Falluja, Iraq on November 13, 2004. The insurgent claimed to be a student. Image reproduced courtesy of Ashley Gilbertson.