Gelatin silver print
Gift of William Kistler, 1977.709
While operating close to the zone of advance was important, this also meant that facilities were often improvised. Each unit was assigned a photographic truck and trailer that served as a darkroom, but printing often occurred in spaces “found, stolen or imagined” as Steichen put it. In an article written after the war, Steichen recalled that the Photographic Section prepared all the July 1918 photographs of Vaux and the Château Thierry sector in a tent:
Inside of one end of the tent a wooden framework was set up and this covered with tar paper and opaque curtains to make it light-tight. It was also just about as air-tight, but men worked steadily in shifts in this hotbox for six consecutive days and nights—and came out alive.
This photograph, from the 5th Photographic Section, shows the inside of a printing lab—complete with portable drying rack and washing trays. To the left a portion of the shed has been blocked off with tar paper to create a darkroom. Water for rinsing the prints was often hauled in buckets from nearby streams.
This photograph shows the 12th Photographic Section in front of one of the mobile darkroom trailers. Each man poses with a piece of the equipment needed for the process—from an airman with a camera to a lab technician wearing an apron.
Inscribed recto, on album page, lower left, in black/brown ink: “Town of Vaux. (near Chateau Thierry) / June 30 day before American attack”; printed recto, on album page, lower right, in black ink: “Photographic Section. / Air Service. American Expeditionary Forces.”; inscribed recto, on album page, lower right, in blue ink: “33”; unmarked verso