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Tony Shepherd  

My Question: Has Capa’s wide collection of war photography in any way increased his reputation as a war photographer, compared to other photographers?

Intro Throughout his career, Capa travelled around the globe in order to photograph the events of 5 different wars. During this time he built up a wide collection of images that documented the war in different aspects. But does this large collection of images increase his reputation as a war photographer, compared to other war photographers at the time. Photographers such as Gerda Taro and George Rodger had also gone out and built up their own collections of war images, building their reputations whilst doing so. Gerda Taro Whilst looking into Gerda Taro’s images of the war, it is noticeable that most of her work lacks photographs of actual conflict. The closest she appears to have come in documenting the war comes from images of wounded soldiers getting carried away, and seeking aid, and an attempt to document life at military camps. This differs from Capa’s collection as in some shots he has shown soldiers at the point of war, getting shot, and shortly after their death. Florence Walters describes Gerda: ‘But almost always, her soldiers are human, happy, alive, imbued with revolutionary vigour and rising up. She captures marines singing, and a soldier painting. For her, art and life are as much a part of the war as the fighting.’ Perhaps this suggests that Gerda’s reputation does not lie in the actual conflict, such as Capa’s, but instead of their spirits, and proving that the soldiers are still showing signs of humanity in such conditions. When comparing Gerda’s images to Capa’s, Walters explains: ‘They are not Capa's soldiers, small against the landscape – the struggling, the dead, and the falling.’

Tony Shepherd  

Although Capa photographed more wars then Gerda managed to, it is questionable as to if he was successful in capturing the soldiers with high spirits, possibly what can be described as the positive moments of the war.

George Rodger Like Capa he has taken images of those who have fallen in the war, but these images appear to be of people who have been dead for a while, where-as Capa’s were some of people who had been shot dead while he was possibly present. Again this suggests that Capa was more involved around the action as it happened. Rodger has been successful in showing the outcome of the war, but maybe not so much as the actual war itself. After photographing the dead at concentration camps, he could no longer document the war again, as it was too much for him to take. To document the war, u would need a strong stomach, and maybe this is something Capa had over Rodger. Like Robert Capa, George Rodger spent a lot of time taking images of those who have fallen in the war, and the aftermath of battles. However, he too lacked in images taken showing actual conflict and gunfights. Many of Rodger’s shots are images of the dead, such as bodies pilled up in a concentration camp. He appears to have been successful in showing how large a scale the body count would have been in places such as the concentration camps. Furthermore he has shown many images of the destruction and fear people still had back in England, such as images of people wearing steel helmets, and images of those around rubble. Capa may still be seen as documenting death and the life of a soldier to a more realistic/educational extent, however it is possible to argue that Rodger was more successful in focusing on other areas such as how the war affected those who wasn’t a soldier, or any other part of the army. After documenting the results of concentration camps, Rodger was unable to work on war photography again. This may in fact increase the reputation of photographers, such as Capa, who was able to continue documenting wars after seeing such sights.

CONCLUSION These images may have increased his reputation in the area of documenting the conflict, but that is just a small section of the war. I

Tony Shepherd  

believe that Capa has been very successful in showing the reality of war and how death is a huge part of it. But perhaps his wide collection failed to show other aspects, such as the relationships between the soldiers, and their lives in the military camps.


Waters, F. , 2008. Gerda Taro photography: dainty revolver, loaded lens, The Telegraph, [online]. Available at: photography_dainty_revolver_loaded_lens__/ [Accessed 14th November 2011]


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