In 1918, Two Photographers Built MASSIVE Human Sculptures to Support the War Effort



In late 1916 and early 1917, the U.S. Military was in desperate need of help funding the war efforts.  Over the next two years, they would hatch hundreds of ideas and campaigns that involved entertainers, movies, parades, etc. all in the name of helping to sell War Bonds.  One of our favorite projects involved two relatively unknown photographers -- Arthur S. Mole and John D. Thomas -- who hatched the idea of crafting elaborate "living portraits" out of thousands of soldiers.   

huge soldier photos, wwi soldier photos, thomas and mole, wwi photos
Camp Dodge, Iowa
Mole & Thomas

Human Statue of Liberty: 18,000 officers and men at Camp Dodge in Des Moines, Iowa.

This is by far their most famous photo.  Taken in the middle of summer on a sweltering day in 1918, it involves 18,000 officers and men at Camp Dodge in Des Moines, Iowa.  The photo took all day to set up and many men passed out from the hours of standing in their wool uniforms in nearly 100 degree heat.  

The photo was taken from a specially-designed 80-foot tower, and you'll notice one amazing thing about the photo:  It has almost perfect perspective!  Here's where it gets interesting:  If you look at the bottom of the photo, you'll see about 60 men make up the "base" of the statue.  Beyond that, there are 2,000 men that make up the body, left arm, and head.  Now get this:  There are 12,000 men in the flame coming out of the torch!  

Another interesting fact:  The actual Statue of Liberty is only 151 feet tall?  However, to ensure proper perspective, these soldiers had to create their statue at 1235 feet!

Let's look at a few more examples and dive deeper in to how they figured out how to do this...