Training and Equipment
In July 1917, The Signal Corps Photographic Section was created. This was three months after the US entered the war. Official photography was mainly done by Signal Corps, however the Navy and Marine Corps also appointed other photographers. 6,500 students were enrolled in land and aerial photography schools by November 1918.
Most students used the 4x5 inch single-lens reflex Graflex. This camera helped with fast exposure time and easily controlled focus. Still others handled 4x5 inch Speed Graphics. Both of these cameras could be hand held or mounted on a Tripod. Civilians also used 3¼x5½ inch roll-film cameras.
The aerial photographs were used mainly to gather information about enemy lines, while the images taken by the Signal Corps were used for military and educational uses. The photographs were also used for propaganda in the home countries.
World War One began in 1914 with limited coverage of the massacres. However; by the summer of 1915 the butchery increased to all time highs and governments banned journalists from visiting the war front. Since the US had not yet entered the war, most American journalists and photographers went home. The punishment for photographers trying to sneak on to the front lines were severe. As the photographer Jimmy Hare stated, "to so much as make a snapshot without official permission in writing means arrest".
From 1917 to 1918 the American Expeditionary Force (AEF) recruited many photographers to cover the war abroad. Once the US entered the war, many journalists were called home to cover the training of the troops. Because of the AEF many accredited photographers were permitted to travel within the US army zones. They sent home hundreds of pictures a week and in three months 1,650 photographs were approved for the use of the media.
By the end of 1918 most photographers were so horrified by what they saw on the front lines that they could no longer support the war effort. In the 1920's, real photos of the atrocities committed in the trenches and the dead soldiers finally surfaced in the home front.