February 24, 2018

Thousands of Soldiers Form Living Photographs

Thousands of American Soldiers Pose as Symbols of American History

These fantastic works of art are actually human or “living” photographs, taken by English photographer Arthur S. Mole and American photographer John D. Thomas. The images were constructed using thousands of soldiers positioned in synchronicity to form the subject of the photos. These American history photographs were taken around the turn of the 20th century at various military camps throughout the United States.

Human Liberty Bell Photograph

The Human Liberty Bell - 25,000 Soldiers - Camp Dix, New Jersey

Mole and Thomas spent time traveling from one military camp to another taking photos of soldiers formed in patriotic symbols as part of a planned promotional campaign to sell war bonds and boost morale.

Human Photos American Eagle

The Human American Eagle - 12,500 Officers, Nurses, and Soldiers - Camp Gordon - Atlanta, Georgia - 1918

Photographers Mole and Thomas spent days preparing each of the formations, which were photographed from a 70 to 80 foot tower with an 11 by 14 inch camera. These historic photos by Mole and Thomas are now part of the Chicago Historical Society, the Museum of Modern Art and the Library of Congress.

Human Statue of Liberty Living Photo

Human Statue of Liberty - 18,000 Soldiers - Camp Dodge - DesMoines, Iowa

Arthur’s great nephew Joseph Mole, told the story of how this incredible picture was captured: “In the picture of the Statue of Liberty there are 18,000 men: 12,000 of them in the torch alone, but just 17 at the base. The men at the top of the picture are actually half a mile away from the men at the bottom.”

Living Uncle Sam Photograph

The Living Uncle Sam - 19,000 Soldiers in this Photo - Camp Lee, Virginia

These photographs are the first known to use an innovative and unique technique to beat the problem of perspective and the use of so many people at one time. Arthur’s great nephew Joseph explains: “Arthur was able to get the image by actually drawing an outline on the lens, he then had the troops place flags in certain positions while he looked through the camera…”

Living Emblem of the United States Marines

Living Emblem of the United States Marines Logo

Carl Hammer, of the Chicago gallery, was quoted as saying: “Mole and Thomas were commissioned by the US government to take the pictures as a way to raise morale among the troops and raise money by selling the shots to the public.”

Living Photos President Woodrow Wilson

President Woodrow Wilson - 21,000 Soldiers in this Photo - Camp Sherman - Chillicothe, Ohio - 1918

The Panther Living Photograph

The Panther - Formed by the Faculty and Students of The University of Pittsburgh - April 9, 1920

Living Photos 209th Engineers

209th Engineers - Camp Sheridan, Alabama - 1919

Living Photos Machine Gun Insignia

Machine Gun Insignia - 22,500 Soldiers and 600 Machine Guns in this Photo - Camp Hancock - Augusta, Georgia - December 10, 1918

These photos are true works of art and a real treasure. If you like these images as much as we do, you can read more about them and the photographers at Wikipedia…



  1. AKAIK you\’ve got the asenwr in one!

  2. That is quite an impressive photographer. I can’t imagine how to organize such a thing, and the time required for each of these shots is probably quite high. Job well done!

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