August 20, 2013

Militarization Meets Back-to-School Day

If you follow the visual news wire, you’re intimately aware that photo stories and the contents of “photo packages” are as much based on serendipity and the rituals of the calendar as they are on hard news. In the late days of summer, with the country just as focused on threat levels as ever, what better place to dispatch a photographer for that back-to-school story than a military college?

Visual fashion being as diffuse as it is, this Getty package spans the gamut. I liked the photos above for their quirky art photography vibe, these knobs (see caption) — like extras in a Wes Anderson movie — as little more than laughably-impressionable automatons.

At the same time, I liked these shots for pretty much the opposite reason. Employing a more documentary style, we get a sense of the initiation right of boys lording it over boys, military culture akin to an extended hazing ritual. And, given the caption’s recruiting stats, both treatments hold their own as this academic path appears as popular as ever.

…The only thing is (and maybe you can help me out here), I couldn’t figure out a genre for this one, this photo of the upperclassman uncharacteristically trailing this newbie.

(photos: Richard Ellis/Getty Images. caption 1 – complete: Incoming Citadel freshman, known as knobs, stand in formation as they read while waiting to be issued a uniform at the Military College of South Carolina. The Citadel, which began in 1842, has more than 700 incoming freshmen this year selected from a pool of 2,958 applicants, the largest in the history of the college.) caption 2 – first line: Citadel freshman cadets known as knobs adjust their new uniforms before drills on August 19, 2013 in Charleston, South Carolina. caption 3 and 4,  first line: CHARLESTON, SC – AUGUST 19: An incoming Citadel freshman known as knob stands in formation as an upperclassman issues orders at The Citadel, The Military College of South Carolina on August 19, 2013 in Charleston, South Carolina. caption 5, beginning of first line: A Citadel upper classman (L) gives an incoming freshman known as a knob orders during matriculation day at The Citadel.)

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Michael Shaw
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