Gerda Taro: Photographer Robert Capa during the Spanish civil war, May 1937

Robert Capa was born as Endre Ernő Friedmann on October 22, 1913.

As a teenager, he attended József Pécsi’s photography school, joined the left- wing progressive circle of Lajos Kassák, and aspired to become a journalist. In 1930, as a result of his involvement in a leftist protest, he was briefly imprisoned, beaten to unconsciousness; however, he was released due to his parents’ connections, on the condition that he would leave the country. He went to Berlin where he studied journalism at the German Political College (Deutsche Hochschule für Politik) and initially worked as a photo lab assistant at the Dephot Photo Agency (Deutscher Photodienst). In 1932, with a Leica gifted to him by a friend, he captured photos of Trotsky. The series of 28 photographs was later published on a full page in Weltspiegel.

In the autumn of 1933, he moved to Paris’s Latin Quartier and tried to make a career under the name André Friedmann. Fortunately, he also received support from the photographer and compatriot André Kertész. In 1934, he met Gerta Pohorylle, who later became known as Gerda Taro. Later, he also chose a pseudonym, changing the name André Friedmann to Robert Capa.

He became world-famous with The Falling Soldier (The Death of a Loyalist Militiaman), shot in September 1936, during the Spanish Civil War. One of the saddest moments of his life is also related to this period: the tragic loss of his love and colleague, the Polish-born Gerda Taro – who was the first female photojournalist who died on the front line.

His photographs were published in the most important picture magazines of the world – Life, Weekly Illustrated, Picture Post, Collier’s. Stefan Lorant, the legendary photo editor of Hungarian origin, wrote about him: “Robert Capa is the greatest war photographer in the world.”

During World War II he worked as a war photographer. He landed together with the first American troops on D-Day, June 6, 1944. Although he photographed several rolls of film about the Allied operation, only The Magnificent Eleven survived.

In 1945, he met and fell in love with Ingrid Bergman in Paris and followed the actress to Hollywood where he worked as a set photographer and an assistant cameraman. There he began to write his autobiography, originally intended as a screenplay. The book was published under the title Slightly Out of Focus in 1947.

Upon Capa’s suggestion, in 1947 he and his friends – Henri Cartier- Bresson, George Rodger, David “Chim” Seymour, William Vandivert, along with his wife and Maria Eisner – founded the Magnum Photos, a cooperative photographic agency, which successfully operates ever since.

At the end of the 1940s and beginning of the 1950s, the war photographer turned to photojournalist: commissioned by the magazine Holiday, he captured scenes from the life of celebrities, as well as world-famous artists, including portrait series of Picasso and Henri Matisse.

In 1954, he got an assignment from Life magazine to cover the French colonial wars. Crossing the Red River with the soldiers on May 25, 1954, he stepped on a landmine and died in Thái Bình, Vietnam.

Robert Capa found his eternal rest in the Quaker cemetery in Amawalk, near New York.