Louie Palu

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Night Raid
Collection of the artist

This photograph is of a wounded Afghan soldier in a U.S. Army helicopter after a bombing during a night raid. It was made in 2010 in Kandahar, Afghanistan. The first well-known photographic portraits of wounded soldiers came from the U.S. Civil War, when photography became a prominent method of informing the public about the conflict. Photographs from the Civil War have come to symbolize and teach Americans about one of the nation’s most painful moments in its history. The blue color is from an emergency cabin light used at night in MEDEVAC helicopters, which are front-line air ambulances. When I first saw the image it shocked me, as a photograph allows for extended viewing and reflection on behalf of the viewer. As I came to understand the image, it seemed to evolve into a symbolic portrait of war, creating two parallel portraits in one.