This series was commissioned by the photographic center of Cherbourg-Octeville, who wanted a photographic record of the uniforms present at the Arsenal. At the time, Charles Fréger was already familiar with the services; as a student he had already photographed young sailors on board the training ship Jeanne d’Arc, as well as sailors on a tug, when both those boats were moored in the port of Rouen. And then came his series Camouflages and Legionnaires. Others followed, including the longer series Empire. The portraits in L’Arsenal are of service men and workers involved in building submarines for the shipbuilding company DCN. Because of the nature of the site, the shots had to be in tight focus; a wide-angle was not allowed, in order to keep classified information out of the shot. With these constraints, it was impossible for the photographer to place the individual within a context. However, it did leave him able to concentrate on the person in uniform. This work environment, which usually weighs heavily on the individual, loosened its grip for the time it took to take the photograph. The background having been excluded, the individual was given pride of place and became more important than the Arsenal and more important than his function. We see a man adjusting his clothing. This motif, the passage between two different identities – the moment when the uniform is donned like a second skin –, recurs several times in later series.