Chances are if you’re a fan of great photography, you’re a fan of Robert Capa. You will at least have seen some of his striking images which mark him out as history’s greatest war photographer.
Born Endre Friedmann in Budapest, Hungary in 1913, he was forced to flee oppression in his homeland as a teenager. He moved to Berlin for college, only to see the rise of Hitler and be forced again to flee. This time he landed in Paris, changed his name to Capa, and began to work as a photojournalist.
The Falling Soldier
Lauded for his bravery, Capa recorded images of five major conflicts. When the allies landed on Omaha Beach for the D-Day landings, he was the only photographer to land with them. His first war zone assignment was The Spanish Civil War, where he captured his most famous picture ‒ the death of a Republican fighter, “The Falling Soldier”. In just one picture Capa speaks of the tragedy and futility of war as the shot soldier is captured mid collapse.
Though finding much success through the foundation of the Magnum photo agency, Capa’s affinity for zones of conflict was to be his undoing. In 1954, while promoting an exhibition of Magnum pictures in Japan, Life Magazine offered an assignment in Southeast Asia. Capa could not resist another foray into the field and accepted. On May 25, 1954, at the age of just 40, the great photojournalist stepped on a landmine and was killed while doing the job he loved.