Icons in Focus: Pioneering Female War Photographer Gerda Taro


Her untimely death put a halt to what could have been a long and wonderful career. Gerda Taro’s trailblazing ways as a female war photographer helped create some of the most gripping images of war on the front lines.

Images via International Center of Photography

Gerda Taro’s works became instrumental in documenting the civil war that ravaged Spain in 1937. Her up close photographs of battle are harrowing reminders of the real effects of war. Her shots were not only meant to portray battlefield heroics. Taro took to the field to capture the lives of people caught in the crossfire.

Images via Magnum Photos

Young, determined and dedicated to her work, Taro set out to establish her career as a photojournalist. Covering conflicts is not an easy task. There was danger in every assignment but Taro paid no mind to her safety. She kept taking photographs as troops from both the Loyalist and Republican sides exchanged fire. The female photojournalist holed up with troops in the trenches so she wouldn’t miss a shot. Her dedication to her craft is nothing short of heroic.

Image via International Center of Photography

Born Gerta Porohylle on August 1, 1910, Taro fled Nazi Germany with her family to avoid persecution. The émigré met another soul in hiding in the person of Hungarian Endre Friedmann. The two fell in love and created new personalities for themselves and their careers. Friedmann became the legendary Robert Capa and Porohylle became Gerda Taro.

Gerda Taro kept shooting until the final day of her life. On July 25, 1937, Taro became the first female war photographer to die on assignment. Chasing the action to get the shots she needed, Taro hopped on board a car carrying wounded soldiers but it collided with a Republican tank. The accident took the life of the young photographer. Taro was 26.

Images via Magnum Photos

Taro’s career was short-lived but her contributions to photojournalism are priceless. Although the name Gerda Taro was always overshadowed by Robert Capa, it was Taro who helped launch the career of the would-be legend. A new book titled Gerda Taro: Inventing Robert Capa by Jane Rogoyska offers a colorful look into the pioneering female photographer’s life and works.

All information and photos used in this article were sourced from Guardian, BBC, International Center of Photography and Magnum Photos.

Like this article? Check out the Icons in Focus and Today in History series in the Lomography magazine!

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written by cheeo on 2014-01-02 in #lifestyle #war-photography #gerda-taro

One Comment

  1. herbert-4
    herbert-4 ·

    Spanish Civil War was a crappy thing with the sides mostly co-opted by the Soviets and the Nazis, finally leaving misery and goddamned Franco in power for the next 40 years. My father told me that, as a teenager in the 1930's, he was a Trotskyist.

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