The Royal British Legion Recreates Stunning Photos Of WWI Soldiers Taken A Century Ago

The new photo series is a major part in the 2015 Remembrance Day Poppy Appeal campaign.

The Royal British Legion has run many emotive and memorable campaigns to support its annual Poppy Appeal, which marks Remembrance Day. This year it has produced a series of haunting photographs of modern service people, that are also meticulous reconstructions of photographs taken a century ago.


The photographs were taken by Tom Reeves, who recreated the work of his grandfather, Benjamin Reeves. They were taken in the same building his grandfather originally moved into in 1858 where he built a studio that has been in use ever since. It is thought to be the world’s oldest running photography studio.

In an accompanying film, Reeves explains he found in the studio archives a series of photographs of First World War servicemen, who had come to have their portraits taken before they went to the front. He set about recreating the same shots, in the same studio, using the same backdrops with modern servicemen and women. He replicated his grandfather’s techniques, including using the same camera, which was made in the 1890s and hadn’t been used since the 1940s.

The juxtaposition of the portraits of a diverse range of modern servicemen and women with their counterparts from the previous century is remarkably poignant. The series is the centerpiece of the 2015 Poppy Appeal campaign, created by agency RKCR/Y&R, which includes online films and interviews, print, outdoor, social and digital activities.

The Royal British Legion was founded by veterans of the First World War and the Poppy Appeal is just one of its many activities to support and help veterans, servicemen and women and their families. The Appeal asks members of the public to show their support for the services by wearing a poppy to mark Remembrance Day on November 11th each year.

The poppy has become a powerful symbol of remembrance. Last year, to mark the centenary of Britain’s entry into WWI, the Tower of London hosted an art installation in which the Tower’s moat was filled with 888,246 ceramic red poppies, one for every British and colonial fatality during the conflict.

About the author

Louise Jack is a London-based journalist, writer and editor with a background in advertising and marketing. She has written for several titles including Marketing Week, Campaign and The Independent.