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Robert Capa

1913 Budapest
1954 Thai-Binh, Vietnam

Robert Capa (André Friedmann), born 22nd October 1913 in Budapest, was one of the key figures in the development of committed photojournalism. In 1930 he began taking pictures as a self-taught photographer, and in 1931 he emigrated to Berlin, where he studied politics until 1933. He then worked as a photographic laboratory assistant, and from 1932 as an assistant at the "Dephot" agency.
In 1933, he moved to Paris, where he met the photographer David Seymour, who introduced him to Henri Cartier-Bresson. He also met Gerda Taro, who shared his passion for photojournalism, and they fell in love. In 1936, he adopted the pseudonym Robert Capa and photographed the Spanish civil war as a war reporter. His documentary photograph "The Death of a Loyalist Soldier" (1936), appeared in "Life", "Vu", and other magazines, and made Capa internationally famous. The photo shows a soldier who has been hit by a bullet in free fall, and is still regarded as a moving criticism of the madness of war.
Fate dealt Robert Capa heavy blow in 1937, when his girlfriend Gerda Taro was crushed by a tank during the Spanish civil war. In 1938, he published their joint work "Death in the Making", in her memory. He also worked successfully for magazines such as "Life" and "Time".
In 1939, Robert Capa emigrated to the USA, and he worked as a war reporter for "Life" magazine and the U.S army during World War Two. Robert Capa was always on the frontline of conflicts, and reported "live" from the D-Day landings in Normandy. After the war, Capa had a two-year affair with married film actress Ingrid Bergman.
In 1947, he co-founded the famous "Magnum" photography agency, acting as its president from 1948-54. In the following years, he published a number of reportages and books (including "A Russian Journal" with John Steinbeck). One of his maxims was: "If your photos aren’t good enough then you weren’t close enough".
On 25th May 1954, whilst on the streets of Thai-Binh, he stepped on a landmine and was killed. He had always been pro-freedom and anti-war, and thus unafraid to take risks.

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