02/28/2013 08:28 pm ET Updated Mar 01, 2013

'Eye Level In Iraq,' Photographs Of U.S. Invasion, Comes To San Francisco's De Young Museum (PHOTOS)

It's been nearly a decade since our government attacked Baghdad, launching the infamous "shock and awe" attacks that marked the start of the U.S. invasion of Iraq. And while the invasion itself was widely televised, the civilian experience was a quieter battle.

Such is the focus of "Eye Level in Iraq: Photographs by Kael Alford and Thorne Anderson," an exhibition that documented daily life in Iraq during the invasion, on view now at the de Young Museum.

Over a two-year period, Alford and Anderson worked outside the confines of the embedded journalist program, eschewing the protection of the U.S. military but allowing authentic access to the civilian experience in the process.

The result is a chilling reminder of the realities of war: children cradling firearms, mothers wailing in misery and brief moments of laughter and ordinary life in extraordinary circumstances.

"I consider these photographs invitations to the viewer to learn more, to explore the relationships between public policy objectives and their real-world execution, and the consider the legacies of human grief, anger, mistrust and dismay that surely follow violent conflict," wrote Alford in a release. "I hope that these images will also open a window on the grace of Iraq, and perhaps help to give a few of these memories a place to rest."

See photos from the exhibit in the slideshow below, and visit the de Young Museum to view "Eye Level in Iraq."

Eye Level in Iraq