Fernand Cuville (1887-1927) was recruited into the 3rd Colonial Infantry Regiment in February 1915, transferred to a Military Nursing Section in August 1916 and joined a Staff Secretaries and Recruitment Section in February 1917. As for Paul Castelnau, he was initially mobilised with the Geographical Service of the French Army. During the First World War, the two men worked for the Photographic Section of the French Army, created in 1915 and which employed 15 operators. They carried out photographic missions on the Western Front, covering the destruction, troop movements and camp life, also using a process known as autochrome.
The autochrome process, an early colour photography process, was patented by the Lumière brothers in 1903 and first marketed in 1907. Autochrome provided a simple and reliable way of fixing colours. For 25 years autochrome dominated the colour photography market. Its production ended in 1955.
Since it required a relatively long exposure time it was predominantly suitable for capturing static scenes, such as individual or collective portraits. Considering these technical constraints, it allowed photographers to document static war scenes in colour such as those above of the destruction of the city of Reims, portraits of civilians and views of the front.