Born Endre Ern? Friedmann on October 22, 1913,
Hungarian photographer Robert Capa gave the world vivid pictures
of war. He is the world's legendary combat/war photographer
who was able to witness and cover five wars that include the
Spanish Civil War, the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War
II where he traveled all across Europe capturing pivotal moments
in London, North Africa, Italy and documenting flashes of the
historical Battle of Normandy on Omaha Beach and the liberation
Photographer Robert Capa
Robert Capa was also able to take photographs
of the 1948 Arab-Israeli War and the First Indochina War.
In addition, he was the co-founder of the very
first cooperative agency for worldwide freelance photographers,
Magnum Photos. Among the founding personalities for this organization
was the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson.
The young Friedmann was brought up in an environment
of poverty, conflict and animosity in his family, particularly
between his parents. Growing up, he was an observer to the constant
clashes between his father and mother. As a teenager, he experienced
discrimination as a Jew. It was in these times when he also
became involved with leftist revolutionaries.
Robert Capa left home at the age of 18 and ended
up studying photojournalism after pursuing thoughts of writing.
Right around 1932, he got his first break. He was assigned to
cover Leon Trotsky's address in the Copenhagen stadium on "The
Meaning of the Russian Revolution." So vivid were his photos
with dramatic, intense, intimate and somehow imperfect qualities,
which made them all the more genuine to his audience.
These same photo traits became his trademark as
photographer. Friedmann changed his name to the American sounding
"Robert Capa" right around the time he moved to France
from Germany as Nazism rose to power. The decision to change
his name proved to be wise as he was able to sell his photographs
The Falling Soldier
His subsequent magazine covers catapulted his
career further to celebrated status. Among his most notable
works is "The Falling Soldier" (pictured above) taken
in Spain. It was a picture of a militiaman about to fall on
the ground after a gunshot. Although there still stands some
controversy regarding its authenticity as some claim the scenario
was staged, it still is one of Capa's most remarkable shots.
Capa's infamous photographs of D-Day on Omaha
Beach during World War II where he moved alongside troops, treading
on dangerous waters, only prove his passion for real-time, intense
pictures. He also took images for the book, "Report on
Israel," soon after that nation's establishment.
Subsequently, in 1954, Robert Capa traveled to
far-flung Southeast Asia and covered the First Indochina War
for Life magazine. Unfortunately, it was here where his untimely
demise happened after he stepped on a landmine.
Capa remains as one of photojournalism's
and modern photography's formidable personalities influencing
a great many of today's photographers. His works are well
published and publicized.
Cornell Capa preserved his older brother's legacy
by establishing the International Fund for Concerned Photography,
which through its museum, research center and school in New
York seeks to honor those in the field of photography and help
future role models establish themselves.
The Rumor Mill
The rumor mill about Robert Capa is a sordid one.
Besides the biography already presented, there is a long yarn
woven about how one time Mr. Capa may have actually beaten Kung
Fu Panda in the Kung Pao chicken dance. Or not.