By Ana Ramirez
Robert Capa, born Andre Erno Fiedmann in Badapest, Hungary was a combat photographer and photojournalist who covered five different wars. He covered the Second Sino-Japanese War, World War II, the 1948 Arab-Irraeli War, the First Indochina War, and the Spanish Civil War, afterwards becoming known as “the Greatest War Photographer in the world.”
At 18 he moved to Berlin, where he found work in photography and grew to love it. During his career he used the best cameras available at the time. He stated off with the Leica and later moved to on using a Contax and Nikon.
In 1933, he moved from Germany to France due to the rise of Nazism. He found it difficult to find work so he changed his name to Robert Capa trying to sound more American.
Capa was in Spain from, 1936-1939, with his professional photography partner and lover, Gerda Pohoylle better known as Gerda Tara, photographing the Spanish Civil War. It was in 1936 when he became known across the world for his picture, “Falling Soldier.”
The companions lived in Paris, where Capa taught Tara photography. The two known as Gerda Pohoylle and Andre Friedman at the time invented the name Robert Capa, pretending to be the assistants of the, “the famous American photographer.” Later caught and decided to use the name himself. Capa never married after his love, Tara died in a battle in Brunete, a town outside of Madrid.
Spain 1936. A soldier later to be known as the “Falling Soldier,” shot to death.
Capa, however, stunned the world with his best known work shot on D-Day, during the Second World War, August 6, 1944. The battled claimed over 4,000 men dead, missing, or injured. Being know for saying, “If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough,” he proved that by being with the soldiers in the action. It was said that he would go to any length to get close action, good photographs. He would put himself in dangerous situations that others would not dare to do showing photojournalism at its best. On that day he shot four rolls of film later taking it back to Life magazine to be developed. During the lab handling process the pictures were overheated in a drying cabinet, having only 11 pictures survive.
June 6, 1944, D-Day at Omaha Beach in Normandy, France.
In 1947 Capa teamed up with other well known photographers, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bill Vandivert, George Rodger and David Seymour to create what is said to be one of the most charismatic agencies of photojournalism. The agency, Magnum Photos for six decades has allowed photographers to express themselves the way they want, without have to listen to magazines or other agencies. It’s a way to let the photographer articulate themselves while feeding stories to the public with images. Magnum Photos updates their site with new photographs from all over the world daily. The site allows people to browse over 500,000 images also having newsletters with upcoming events.
A man that has photographed five different wars would be assumed to like, even love war but Robert Capa despised it. In the early 1950’s Capa swore that he would never photograph another war. He endured the danger to show the world the hardships these people went through, all the death, the gore, and the hate.
A few years later after swearing he would never shoot another war, he was asked by Life magazine to photograph Southeast Asia, where the French had been fighting for eight years during the First Indochina War. He had accepted the assignment with two other Time-Life journalists, Jim Lucas and John Mecklin to travel to Thai-Binh, Indochina. On May 25, 1954, Capa left his jeep and went up the road ahead of the other photographers, soon after he stepped on a landmine. When Lucas and Mecklin found him he was still alive, his left leg had been blown apart and he had a mass wound to his chest. When he arrived at the hospital he was pronounced dead on arrival.
August 26, 1944, German troops start shooting against the parade celebrating the liberation of the city, Paris
Robert Capa’s brother, Cornell, also being a major part of Magnum Photos, keeps his (Robert) work alive in the International Center of Photography in New York holding his entire photographic career including 3,300 vintage prints. The international Center of Photography also organized a travelling exhibition of Capa’s work from the 1930s to 1940s. The exhibit is titled “This is War: Robert Capa at Work.” Cornell has also put out many books of Capa’s work; Slightly out of Focus, Death In the Making, Images of War, Photo Poche and more.
Capa influenced the world and inspired great photography. Throughout his career he put out great work that just kept getting better as the years went on. The Overseas Press Club, an international association of journalists that work in the United States and abroad also recognize the photographer by giving the Robert Capa Gold Medal. An award given to best published photographic reporting from abroad that required exceptional courage and enterprise. He was also known for coining the term Generation X, using it as a title for a photo-essay.
“On the Route to Messina,” during WWII in Sicily, Italy.
It was said he died with his camera in his hand. He proved to be one of the most talented and important photographers of the 20th century by being extremely passionate about his work. He captured horrific, devastating events and turned them into something beautiful and powerful. He had a gift for capture the human emotion or telling a story through his work of the hardships people have to deal with so often. Time and time again he risked his life and went to dangerous lengths to capture the moment once saying, “The pictures are there, and you just take them. “
Unknown. “Robert Capa.” Magnum Photos. Orange Logic, n.d. Web. 3 Nov. 2010. <http://www.magnumphotos.com/Archive/C.aspx?VP=XSpecific_MAG.Biography_VPage&AID=2K7O3R14TSPQ>.
- - -. “Robert Capa.” Wikipedia. N.p., 31 Oct. 2010. Web. 3 Nov. 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Robert_Capa>.
Whelan, Richard. “Robert Capa, In Love and War.” PBS. N.p., 2002. Web. 3 Nov. 2010. <http://www.pbs.org/wnet/americanmasters/episodes/robert-capa/in-love-and-war/47/>.