Ohio-born Israeli Rachel Papo began photographing female soldiers in 2004. Having worked as a photographer in the Israeli Air Force for two years during her mandatory military service, Papo had experienced first hand being â€œplucked from her home surroundings and placed in a rigorous institution where her individuality is temporarily forced aside in the name of nationalismâ€ as she describes it in her artist's statement. The project is titled Serial No. 3817131 from the author's own military service.
These images show the homogenizing effect of military service of young people. For young women it can be especially contradictory with competing demands from society to appear gentle and feminine with the necessity of adapting to the rigors of a regimented survival.
â€œIn striving to maintain her gentleness and femininity, the soldier seems to be questioning her own identity, embracing the fact that two years of her youth will be spent in a wistful compromise,â€ writes Papo.
An interesting contrast is Jerusalem-born photographer Steve Sabella's images of occupied Palestinian lands. A professional freelancer who shoots photos for the United Nations, Sabella maintains a website bringing images of daily life from Palestine to the outside world.