Nine years ago when Vancouver-based photographer Albert Law was finishing up his third year of university, he started looking for a challenge that would help get him outside of his comfort zone. Albert ended up joining the Army Reserve in Canada and after four years as an artillery gunner, he transferred into the Public Affairs department where he had the opportunity to document daily life in the Army on various assignments as a photographer.
Although the images were not created for a specific campaign, they went into the Army’s image library where they can be used for various projects; most often to be used on recruiting posters and brochures. The goal of the images was to show the general public how someone in the Army performs their daily duties.
Considering that the assignments were photojournalistic, Albert was not able to have a hand in planning the exact details of what he was shooting for each assignment.
Albert was prepared to document raw moments as he traveled with various teams while they worked. Because he had to be embedded with them in most cases and typically had to carry the same gear to be self-sustaining, Albert was conscious of every bit of camera equipment he packed. His pre-production planning typically consisted of getting a rough idea of activities, weather, and light conditions for desired times of the day, so he could plan accordingly and leave behind all non-essential gear.
The main challenge of shooting these assignments was being a fly on the wall and making sure that he wasn’t in the way of the training. Albert learned to adapt to spontaneity and found that the restrictions he worked under forced him to try different compositions and camera angles.
The primary goal is training for the soldiers and photography is almost always the secondary aspect. This often means restrictions on where I can position myself as well as not always knowing what’s coming next.
The work has been very well received, with images published in newspapers and various internal publication covers. The work is part of a larger image library, so Albert isn’t notified when one of his images is published. However, he sometimes gets a copy dropped off for him when an image he’s shot gets used.
Albert’s favorite part of the project was working with the soldiers who dedicate their lives to what they do and having the opportunity to photograph things that most people never have the chance to experience. He has loved the longevity of this experience and plans to continue in the future, possibly including photographing overseas deployment.
See more of Albert at albertlaw.ca.