“Living Photographs” by Arthur Mole & John Tomas


Arthur Mole (1889-1983) was a commercial photographer from Zion, Illinois (USA) during WWI. During that time he used to go to the army, marine and navy camps to create huge compositions consisting of soldiers, reservists and other people from the military. He is considered to be a pionieer in group photography. He had help from his partner John D. Thomas with these photographs.


The Living Uncle Sam: 19,000 officers and men at Camp Lee, Virginia, January 13, 1919



The living emblem of the United States Marines, formed by 100 officers and 9,000 enlisted men at the Marine Barracks, Paris Island, South Carolina



The Human Liberty Bell, formed by 25,000 officers and men at Camp Dix, New Jersey, 1918



A portrait of President Woodrow Wilson, formed of 21,000 officers and men at Camp Sherman, Chillicothe, Ohio, 1918





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
– Joesph Mole (Arthur Mole’s great nephew)



The Human US Shield: 30,000 officers and men at Camp Custer, Battle Creek, Michigan, 1918



Indoctrination Division, Air Training Command, Lackland Air Base,
San Antonio, Texas, July 19, 1947


Higher resolution images can be found here.
More about Arthur Mole can be found on Wikipedia.

Leave a Reply to Raymond Sullivan

4 Responses to ““Living Photographs” by Arthur Mole & John Tomas”

  1. Raymond Sullivan

    Wow a great find Ben. Hard to imagine that level of photographic creativity and commitment back in a day when the camera was a new toy.

    • Ben den Hartog

      Thanks Raymond. Yeah I was astonished when I saw these photographs. Every photograph is a huge achievement to get it right from a certain perspective.

  2. Laura Jasinsky

    I have an original of the Camp Sherman photo — my grandfather is in that picture, arms on hips — you can see the red arrow pointing to him on my facebook site. The men would march out onto the field day after day (may have been weeks?), lining up, until I guess one day they finally got it right and the photographer took the shot. That’s the story I was told.

    • Ben den Hartog

      Wow that is so cool! Interesting to know a little background behind those pictures. Thanks for sharing!