Behind the Scenes Photos of Life as a Young Soldier

From beer pong to 'Mario Kart' tournaments, Scott A. Laurent documented his time in the French army.
Pierre Longeray
Paris, FR
Soldiers playing beer pong
An improvised beer pong match. Sahel, September 2019. All photos: Scott A. Laurent

This article originally appeared on VICE France.

As an aspiring war photojournalist, 25-year-old Scott A. Laurent has already immersed himself in the field. After graduating from art school in Marseille, he followed in his dad’s footsteps and enrolled in the French army in October of 2017.

For the past three years, Laurent has been on missions in the Sahel region, including in Chad and Niger, and in trainings in France. His candid shots show the day-to-day rigmarole of being a young soldier, defined by boredom, tension and the routine tasks which fill the long waits between operations.


Laurent says the French army has a bit of a social media problem, with soldiers often posting selfies while on mission and compromising sensitive information. “If you compare 30 friends on holiday in Brazil and 30 soldiers stationed in Niger, they’ll come back with the same amount of photos,” he says. But before leaving for his first mission, he asked permission to take his analogue photography kit and his superiors agreed.

Currently back to civilian life, Laurent is waiting for the pandemic to be over before he can head out to conflict zones and embark on a photojournalism career, armed with inside knowledge. In the meantime, he’s working on a book – a photographic memoir of his life as a young soldier.

Scroll down to see his pictures.

Camping site

A tank driver and his partner camping outside after a long day of tactical training. Aisne, France, June 2020.

A mountain infantry soldier wearing heavy equipment.

A mountain infantry soldier smiling through the cold and the fatigue during a night operation. Doubs, France, Feb. 2020.

Mountain infantry soldiers.

Preparations for Change of Command Parade. Isère, France, May 2019.

A sergeant taking pictures.

A sergeant takes pictures before building a Forward operating base. Sahel, July 2019.

A squad leader taking a break.

A squad leader smokes a cigarette inside his vehicle. Sahel, July 2019.

Soldier after doing crossfit.

The extreme weather conditions make movements difficult, but this soldier didn't give up his Crossfit workout. Sahel, June 2019.

Scott A. Laurent working out.

Scott A. Laurent working out on a DIY gym machine. Sahel, Agust 2019.

A Connect Four match.

A Connect Four match to kill time. Sahel, August 2019.

A Mario Kart tournament.

A Mario Kart tournament. Sahel, August 2019.

Soldier getting out of a tank.

A soldier taking a breath of fresh air on top of the tank. Temperatures inside can be above 50 degrees Celsius. Sahel, July 2019

Soldiers looking at ammunition

Soldiers sort ammunition after a day of shooting. Doubs, France, February 2020.

A soldier cutting a colleague's hair.

A soldier cutting a colleague's hair to maintain an orderly appearance. Sahel, September 2019.

Two soldiers fighting in medeval armour.

Two soldiers fighting in medeval armour for their Lieutenant's goodbye party. Isère, France, June 2020.