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186135 the DDay Photos of Robert Capa

186135 the DDay Photos of Robert Capa

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Published by Tae Hoon Lee
Robert Kaper: Legendary Photographer
Robert Kaper: Legendary Photographer

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Published by: Tae Hoon Lee on Mar 08, 2011
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03/25/2011

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Men of the 16th Infantry Regiment seek shelter from German machine-gun fire in shallow waterbehind "Czech hedgehog" beach obstacles, Easy Red sector, Omaha Beach.© Robert Capa/Magnum Photos.
The Magnificent Eleven: The D-DayPhotographs of Robert Capa
 
"The war correspondent has hisstake  his life  in his ownhands, and he can put it on thishorse or that horse, or he canput it back in his pocket at thevery last minute ... I am agambler. I decided to go in withCompany E in the first wave."
– Robert Capa
The ten photos selected fromthe eleven surviving negativesand published by LIFE on June19, 1944 ...
The Photographer: Bob Capa
 
When soldiers of the 16th Regiment of the 1stInfantry Division landed at Omaha Beach on June 6,1944, photographer Robert Capa, in the employ of LIFEmagazine, was among them.Perhaps the bestknown of all World War IIcombat photographers,the Hungarian-born Capahad made a name forhimself well beforeclimbing into a landingcraft with men of Company E in the earlymorning hours of D-Day.He risked his life on morethan one occasion duringthe Spanish Civil War andhad taken what isconsidered the mosteerily fascinating of all war photographs. The famousimage reportedly depicts the death of Spanish Loyalist
 
militiaman Frederico Borrell Garcia as he is struck in thechest by a Nationalist bullet on a barren Iberian hillside.Capa was known to say, "If your pictures aren't goodenough, you aren't close enough." On D-Day, he cameclose once again. With Capa standing in the very stern,his landing craft mistakenly came ashore at the sectionof Omaha Beach dubbed "Easy Red." Then the rampwent down."The flat bottom of our barge hit the earth of France,"Capa remembered in his book Slightly Out of Focus."The boatswain lowered the steel-covered barge front,and there, between the grotesque designs of steelobstacles sticking out of the water, was a thin line of land covered with smoke  our Europe, the 'Easy Red'beach."My beautiful France looked sordid and uninviting,and a German machine gun, spitting bullets around thebarge, fully spoiled my return. The men from my bargewaded in the water. Waist-deep, with rifles ready toshoot, with the invasion obstacles and the smokingbeach in the background gangplank to take my first realpicture of the invasion. The boatswain, who was in anunderstandable hurry to get the hell out of there,mistook my picture-taking attitude for explicablehesitation, and helped me make up my mind with awell-aimed kick in the rear. The water was cold, and thebeach still more than a hundred yards away. The bulletstore holes in the water around me, and I made for thenearest steel obstacle. A soldier got there at the sametime, and for a few minutes we shared its cover. Hetook the waterproofing off his rifle and began to shootwithout much aiming at the smoke-hidden beach. Thesound of his rifle gave him enough courage to moveforward, and he left the obstacle to me. It was a footlarger now, and I felt safe enough to take pictures of the other guys hiding just like I was."Capa was squeezing off photographs as he headed fora disabled American tank. He remembered feeling "anew kind of fear shaking my body from toe to hair, andtwisting my face." With great difficulty his tremblinghands reloaded his camera. All the while he repeated asentence that he had picked up during the Spanish CivilWar: "Es una cosa muy seria" ("This is a very serious
 
 
business").After what seemed an eternity, Capa turned awayfrom the beach killing zone and spotted an incoming LCI(landing craft, infantry). He headed for it. "I did notthink and I didn't decide it," he later wrote. "I just stoodup and ran toward the boat. I knew that I was runningaway. I tried to turn but couldn't face the beach andtold myself, 'I am just going to dry my hands on thatboat.'"With his cameras held high to keep them from gettingwaterlogged, Capa was pulled aboard the LCI and wassoon out of harm's way. He had used three rolls of filmand exposed 106 frames. After reaching England, hesped by train to London and delivered his precious filmfor developing.A darkroom technician was almost as anxious to seethe invasion images as Capa himself. In his haste, thetechnician dried the film too quickly. The excess heatmelted the emulsion on all but 10 of the frames. Thosethat remained were blurred, surreal shots, whichsuccinctly conveyed the chaos and confusion of the day.
A Capa photo of Omaha Beach severaldays after the landings.
Capa's D-Day photos have become classics. One of them, depicting a GI struggling through the churningsurf of Omaha Beach, has survived as the definitiveimage of the Normandy invasion. He went on tophotograph the Arab-Israeli war in 1948. He alsophotographed his friends Ernest Hemingway and PabloPicasso, as well as film star Ingrid Bergman, with whomhe reportedly had a love affair.

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