Robert Capa

Datesborn Hungary, 1913 - 1954
RolesPhotographer
NationalityAmerican
BornBudapest, Hungary
DiedThai-Binh, Vietnam

To say that Robert Capa was one of the most courageous war photographers in history is hardly an exaggeration. Many of his images, taken under extremely dangerous conditions in the midst of ground combat, convey the chaos of battle in a way no photographer before had captured.

One of Capa's most famous images, Death of a Spanish Loyalist,helped to define the genre of photojournalism as it has evolved in recent decades. Taken at the precise moment that the soldier was shot dead and falling backward, it conveys a sense of bravery on the part of the soldier, but also lets viewers understand that Capa was himself in harm's way. Capa's bravado led him to wade into the Atlantic Ocean off of Normandy, France along with D-Day troops in World War II. Under a hail of bullets from the German troops above the shore, Capa shot dozens of images from the perspective of the American invasion force. In a famous incident, much of Capa's film from that day was ruined when a lab technician placed the film in an overheated dryer, melting the emulsion.

In 1947, Capa, Henri Cartier-Bresson, Bill Vandivert, and several other photographers formed the cooperative photo agency, Magnum. Cartier-Bresson later said of Magnum's unique, almost artistic, photojournalistic philosophy: "Life isn't made of stories that you can cut into slices like an apple pie. There's no standard way of approaching a story. We have to evoke a situation, a truth. This is the poetry of life's reality."

Capa accompanied troops to Indochina in 1954. While there, he unknowingly walked across a land mine after straying from the main group, and died soon after.