With sniper fire flying from all directions, Héctor Rondón Lovera seemed to be at the wrong place at the wrong time on that fateful day in Venezuela in 1962. Yet, amazingly, he managed to capture one of the most powerful images of war and conflict ever taken.
On June 4, 1962, Venezuelan photographer Héctor Rondón Lovera covered the El Porteñazo military rebellion in the city of Puerto Cabello. While he took many compelling scenes during the short-lived conflict, the most poignant of them all was his photograph above of Navy chaplain Luis Padillo clutching a wounded soldier who was also holding onto him as he tried to pull himself up. Despite the sniper fire flying around the area, Padillo was reportedly walking around and giving last rites to dying soldiers.
From the Venezuelan capital of Caracas, Lovera traveled sixty miles to Puerto Cabello and arrived just in time to witness the entrance of government tanks in the city. Lovera had to avoid the line of fire by lying flat, so how he managed to capture the poignant scene above is a story in itself. For his iconic snap entitled “Aid from a Padre,” Lovera earned the World Press Photo of the Year in 1962, and also inspired American painter Norman Rockwell for his 1965 Southern Justice painting.
Our intention with the Influential Photographs columns is not to glorify or demean the subject of the photo. Our intention with this column is to highlight the most influential analogue photographs of history. The photographs we feature are considered icons, for their composition, subject matter, or avant-garde artistic value.