Steichen's Navy Photography

Edward Steichen (1879-1973), Surrounded by Hellcat fighters, ordnancemen work on bombs on the hangar deck of the USS Yorktown. Officers and men in background are watching a movie, ca. 1944. Gelatin silver print. Graphic Arts GC131.

Photographer Edward Steichen was thirty-eight when he joined the U.S. Army’s photography division during World War I. Specializing in aerial reconnaissance, Steichen finished his commission with the rank of Colonel. When the United States entered World War II, Steichen tried to reenlist but, at age sixty-one, he was turned down.

Finally, in 1943, he was asked if he would like to help with the Navy’s effort to recruit young pilots. Steichen was given the title of director of the U.S. Naval Photographic Institute, working as a lieutenant commander in the Naval reserve. He and his hand-picked unit created images of good will and patriotism, with very little evidence of the actual war.

This is one example of his work, depicting soldiers at work making bombs while others watch a movie. For more, see: