by Matt Knight
A photographer from the Netherlands has captured haunting images of some of that country’s Marines before, during, and after their tour of duty in Afghanistan.
Felicie came up with the idea for this project when her 18-year-old son decided to join the Marines. He was eager to go to Afghanistan and she spent lots of time thinking about how the experience might change him. In the end he never went— instead getting stationed in the Caribbean—but she did. Through one of his friends, she connected with a squad that was being sent to Afghanistan. She photographed them first while they were still on base in the Netherlands; a lingering shoot full of stories of their families and eagerness to depart.
Nine months later, just six weeks after they lost two of their men to an IED blast, she met up with them in Afghanistan. The photo session was rushed. The men had just returned from patrol, drenched in sweat, and were eager to shower. She had time for just one portrait of each Marine. She caught them again three months later, when they’d returned to the Netherlands. Again, they had plenty of time, but something was different.
“They were saying they were good; they were fine,” Felicie says. “But then I let them sit and look through the camera. When they sat down they said nothing and I said nothing also, it was then I saw, their faces had changed.”
The book version of Here Are the Young Men (a reference to the Joy Division song) will be out in 2013.