“If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough.” — Robert Capa
Robert Capa, whose real name was Endre Friedmann, was a veteran who covered five wars from 1936 in Spain to 1954 in Vietnam. His name was ever present in terms of combat photography and wartime photojournalism and his action photographs portrayed violence with extraordinary impact.
He was a renowned Hungarian-born photographer who once dreamt of becoming a writer. He documented various stories of conflict in black and white film with such bravery and valor. Thus, his photographs are considered as the most harshly fascinating war photographs of all time.
Personally, he was also known to be a hard-drinking gambler, a lover of risks, which somehow supports his unfailing bravery during wartime. He had a certain charisma: with a Leica camera dangling around his neck and a filter cigarette dangling from his lips. He had a way with the females and was even romantically linked to the Hollywood superstar, Ingrid Bergman.
After cheating death for a number of times, Capa swore that he would never risk his life in violent photography and in 1941, he agreed to have his work published in LIFE magazine. In springtime of the same year, though, Capa was killed at a very young age of 40 as he tried to capture the fight as closely as possible. Capa’s ultimate sacrifice, to cover the essence of combat on film, is forever embedded in our memory. His courageous legacy remains intact and he will be unequaled.
Splendid and, at the same time, doomed: these adjectives depict the best photographs by Robert Capa. His photographs are good enough because they were close enough. It’s your turn now, look as closely as you can.
In addition, Capa’s most controversial war photograph is The Falling Soldier which had allegations that it was only staged. In the shot, the soldier appears to be collapsing backwards after being hit by a sniper’s bullet.
Which of these Robert Capa photographs strike your liking the most? What is your two cents regarding the rumors of The Falling Soldier’s authenticity? What other classic photographers would you like to be written about?
basterda is a member of the Lomography team in Manila. She has been dealing with your Customer Service concerns since August of 2010 and is now also contributing to the magazine. Influential Photographs is also one of her ongoing series for the Lifestyle section.