Robert Capa, D-Day: June 6, 1944: Allied Invasion of Normandy, Photo by Templar1307 via Flickr, Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 2.0 Generic License.

Robert Capa Got Close Enough

In the early morning of D-Day, Robert Capa arrived at Omaha Beach on a landing craft to photograph Company E as it attacked the German troops that were firing machine guns from somewhere amid clouds of smoke on the French coast.  Life magazine hired Capa to take the pictures and typically the photographer was risking his life, getting “close enough” to get a good image.  Wading in the cold water toward the beach with the American soldiers through hailing bullets, Capa finally found cover behind a steel obstacle where he captured many of his most arresting images.

Only 11 frames survive from the 4 rolls that Capa took that day because in his haste to see the photographs, the technician at Life magazine destroyed the others when he dried the film too quickly.  Those images that survived were damaged, but they have a distorted quality that conveys the chaos of the day.

To watch a video of John G. Morris, the picture editor of Life magazine, describe the debacle of the development of Capa’s film, click here.

View this and other photographs by members of Magnum, a cooperative agency of photojournalists established in 1947, in an exhibition entitled, “Radical Transformation:
Magnum Photos into the Digital Age ” at the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas at Austin. The exhibition investigates the evolution of the cooperative from its inception to the Digital Age.

The exhibition is on view through January 5, 2014.