A PHOTOGRAPHER who spent weeks taking pictures of Colchester’s paratroopers in Afghanistan has said he was “humbled” by the experience.

Ed Gold found himself on the front line risking his life alongside soldiers in combat and watching medics fighting to save wounded comrades.

It was a harrowing experience, but the 41-year-old photographer says he is keen to go back.

Mr Gold, who lives in a yurt – a kind of Mongolian tent – near Colchester, gave up his job and all his home comforts to focus on taking pictures which chronicle the work of Second Battalion, the Parachute Regiment, at home and at war.

They will soon be seen in a book, which will be sold to raise funds for the Parachute Regiment Afghanistan Trust.

Now safely back in Essex, he told the Gazette: “I gave up everything to do this, so it was a relief to get out there. It was what I had been aiming to do for so long. I made the most of every hour I could.

“These men are a breed apart. I feel admiration for them and very humbled to have spent time with them.”

The toughest time was on the morning on Tuesday, January 25, when soldiers Mr Gold had come to know well suffered terrible injuries.

Among them was Private Martin Bell, who was killed by an improvised explosive device and Private Liam King, from Ipswich, who lost both legs.

Mr Gold said: “I heard the explosions. I was not the best of friends with Martin Bell, but had been having a laugh with him the day before. I stopped taking photos for two days out of respect.”

Mr Gold also spent time in the hospital back at Camp Bastion, where he says he would now like to return to work as a medical photographer.

After shooting 4,000 digital images for the book – a practical choice for Mr Gold, who prefers to shoot on film – he has his work cut out sorting them in time to get the book out by the end of the year.

He said: “It will be a big book and it will be poignant. I feel very privileged to have done it – I only wish I could have stayed longer.”

Mr Gold said his only regret was he had to come home – mainly because of bureaucracy back in the UK.

He explained: “I feel it should have been longer. I had my foot in the door out there, and wanted to keep it open.”

Mr Gold was sponsored on the trip by camera company, Pentax, and outdoor wear company, Snugpak.

To see more of his photos, visit www.edgold.co.uk