*** photography and publishing: photographers -- Robert Capa

Photographers: Frank Capa (Hungary, 1913-54)

Frank Capa
Figure 1.--Capa photographed this little Spanish girl at the end of the Spanish Civil War (1939). I believe she had just arrived in a French refugee camp. Capa's caption read, "A little girl lies on a few bags. She's a pretty little girl, but she must be very tired, for she doesn;t play with the other children. She hardly moves; only her big dark eyes follow all her movements. It's not always easy to stand aside and be unable to do anything except record the sufferings around one." 

Robert Capa is perhas the best known war photo-journalist of all time. He was born Endre Ernő Friedmann (1913). While Hungarian, he has left no memorable images of Hungary. As a Jew, he saw little opportunity in post-World War I Hungary. Civil rights for Jews were well established in the multi-ethnic Austro-Hungarian Empire. The national states that replaced the Empire were less accepting of minority rights. In addition, his left-wing politics attracted the attention of the secret police. He was arrested and beaten. He was released under the understanding that he would leave Hungary (1931). He wanted to be a writer, but his language skills besides Hungarian were not good. He turned to photography in Berlin. He began to get work, but when Hitler seized power, he prudently left for Paris (1933). Capa covered the major connflicts from the Spanish Civil War to the First Vietnam War. Capa was a pen name. While in Paris he changed his name thinking, probably correctly, that a more American-sounding name would help sell his photographs. He created some of the most memorable images of these wars. He captured both combat images as well as the impact of the civilians caught up in the wars. This not infrequently meant children. Some of his most noted work was done during the the Spanish Civil War. He was in America when World War II broke out, so he was able to escape the Holocaust. Despite being nominally an eneny alient, his fame as a photo-journalist enable him to work with the U.S. Army during the War. His images are some of the few surviving photogeraphs of the Omaha Beach D-Day landings. And he left beautiful images capturing the joy of the liberation of Paris. It was Paris that the constantly moving Capa woyuld see as his home after leaving Hungary as a teenager. Capa co-founded Magnum Photos with, the French photographer Henri Cartier-Bresson. The organization created a cooperative agency for worldwide freelance photographers. He was killed in Vietnam, a camera in his hand (1954). This was 2 years before the Hungarian Revolution. We suspect he would have tried to cover it.


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Created: 4:14 AM 4/25/2011
Last updated: 4:14 AM 4/25/2011