Andre Freidmann was born in Budapest in 1913. When he was a political science student in Berlin, he started selling pictures to pay for his tuition. His first published photograph was of Leon Trotsky, the leader of the Russian revolution, in 1932.
Capa's first published photo,
Leon Trotsky lecturing 'the meaning of the Russian revolution', 1932
He escaped from Nazi Germany and moved to France where he met Gerda Taro. Soon after they started to work together, and created an imaginary American photographer called 'Robert Capa', which he later adopted for himself. Capa and Taro also collaborated on a book called 'Death in the Making', however when they were in Spain, covering the Spanish Civil War, Taro was fatally wounded in a tank accident and died. She never saw the book published, and Capa's photographs of the horror of the Spanish conflict won him the title of 'The Greatest War Photographer'.
Taro & Capa in Paris, 1935
Rio Segre, Aragón, Spain 1938
Barcelona, Spain 1936
Death of a Loyalist Militiaman 1936
When the Second World War broke out, his second big break came along. Capa landed on Omaha beach, Normandy in 1944, with the first wave of American troops, attacking the Germans in France. His second prominent coverage was published largely in Life with the headline 'Beachheads of Normandy', and his reputation became more stronger and worldwide.
Capa, taken by Gerda Taro 1937
Robert Capa press card 1939
Capa, Naples 1943
Capa's photographs of D-Day landings from Life 1944
In 1947, he founded photo agency Magnum with his fellow photographers Henri-Cartier Bresson, George Rodger, and David Seymour. The same year, Capa published his war essay called 'Slightly Out of Focus', so called after a print accident in the lab ruined most of his D-Day photographs. Capa also did some collaboration books with his intellectual friends like 'A Russian Journal' with John Steinbeck, and 'Report on Israel' with Irwin Shaw.
'This is going to be a beautiful story' Capa said, and left to Thái Bình, Indochina, for an assignment in 1954. He was on a jeep, looking for the front line with two Life-Time journalists, when he left the jeep to take photos. He accidently stepped on a landmine and was killed. Later the same year of his death, Capa was awarded the Croix de Guerre, by the French Army.
Life's report of Capa's death 1954
Capa, China 1938
American Soldier killed by German sniper, Germany 1945
I bought a pair of vintage Ray-Ban sunglasses at Righty-Right,a vintage store in Nagoya. The shop is cosy and has a well picked selection for men and women. These Ray-Bans still have Bausch&Lomb lenses, and were made in around 1991. The slightly pointed frame reminds me of the pair Jean Seberg wore in Jean-Luc Godard's film, À bout de souffle.
At the Hemingway exhibition, I bought a book called 'Capa in Color'.The book is made for an exhibition from 2005, of the same name. Capa's color negatives were found at Magnum office more than 60 years after the photos were taken. Most of Capa's best photographs are black and white, however color photography gives his work a new dimension, and is also a historically important document of the war.
I recently went to my home, Japan. While I was in Tokyo, I went to the Leica Ginza Salon to see an exhibition, Ernest Hemingway by Robert Capa. I have seen most of the photographs, except for a letter written by Hemingway. He wrote a memorial on Capa's death and sent it to Capa's brother, Cornell. Admission is free, and beautiful old Leicas are on display too. The exhibition runs until 17th of July.