You don’t have to be into photojournalism or documentary photography to know that Robert Capa was one of the seminal names in 20th century photography. The last few years however, have seen various accusations surface that his iconic photo “Falling Soldier” - apparently showing the moment of death of a Spanish solider - was set up. This week new evidence came to light that might once and for all confirm the true story behind one of the most debated images of all time.
As one of the three founders of Magnum, he and his agency’s name are synonymous with some of the greatest photography of the last 65 years. But in recent years, new doubts have begun to surface over the validity of the origins of the 'Falling Solider' image, and to question whether or not it was real or had been set up.
Capa was tragically killed in Vietnam in 1954, doing what he did best, shooting for Life Magazine covering the First Indochina War. That has meant, of course, that Capa has never been able to confirm or deny the origins of how he took this shot. Until now.
The audio interview has Capa talking in 1947 about the story behind how he captured his Falling Solider image (skip to 11mins 22secs to hear him talk about this specifically). I won't give away any spoilers for anyone who wants to hear first hand, but needless to say, I was very surprised to hear how he captured one of the most iconic images of all time!
Whether this busts the myth that the image was faked remains to be seen. It’s still fascinating to be able to hear Capa talk about this image and how it was taken. What is certainly true is the great work Capa captured over the years, the incredible story of how he made a name for himself and how he founded Magnum, and the unfortunate and tragic story of his death (he’d ironically decided to hang up his war photography camera some years prior to going to cover this story). If you don’t know about him, I would certainly recommend checking out some of the links here and reading up on what is certainly one of the greats of the last century.
The ICP is celebrating the 100th anniversary of Capa’s birth, where you can read more about his work and the celebration of his achievements.