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Robert Capa

Robert Capa , original name (Hungarian form) Friedmann Endre Ernő (born 1913, Budapest, Hungary—died May 25, 1954, Thai Binh, Vietnam), photographer whose images of war made him one of the greatest photojournalists of the 20th century.

In 1931 and 1932 Capa worked for Dephot, a German picture agency, before establishing himself in Paris, where he assumed the name Robert Capa. He first achieved fame as a war correspondent in the Spanish Civil War. By 1936 his mature style fully emerged in grim, close-up views of death such as Loyalist Soldier, Spain. Such immediate images embodied Capa’s famous saying, “If your pictures aren’t good enough, then you aren’t close enough.” In World War II he covered much of the heaviest fighting in Africa, Sicily, and Italy for Life magazine, and his photographs of the Normandy Invasion became some of the most memorable of the war.

After being sworn in as a United States citizen in 1946, Capa in 1947 joined with the photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson and David (“Chim”) Seymour to found Magnum Photos, the first cooperative agency of international freelance photographers. Although he covered the fighting in Palestine in 1948, most of Capa’s time was spent guiding newer members of Magnum and selling their work. He served as the director of the Magnum office in Paris from 1950 to 1953. In 1954 Capa volunteered to photograph the French Indochina War for Life and was killed by a land mine while on assignment. His untimely death helped establish his posthumous reputation as a quintessentially fearless photojournalist. Publications featuring his photographs include Death in the Making (1937), Slightly Out of Focus (1947), Images of War (1964), Children of War, Children of Peace (1991), and Robert Capa: Photographs (1996).

National Trust for Historic Preservation