Archived posting to the Leica Users Group, 2006/03/22

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Subject: [Leica] WAS: enough with Olympus NOW HCB
From: paul at (PHC)
Date: Wed Mar 22 02:14:02 2006
References: <>

I don't think it's posed either. In fact, I don't really understand why 
anyone would think it was posed. If you've spent any time studying the 
way people move it is obvious that this guy is falling. Whether he's 
been shot or has just lost his footing is a more questionable point - 
but the picture is called "Falling Soldier" not "Soldier who has just 
been shot".

I'd also point out that Capa never made any claims about the picture. 
It was titled and sold by the agency and he didn't even know about it 
until some weeks later. Now he could, of course, have shouted on his 
return to Paris "No! It was only the guys clowning about! I'm not the 
worlds greatest war photographer!" and terminated his career at that 
point, and perhaps that's what some people believe he should have done. 
Personally I'm very glad he didn't.

There wasn't any misrepresentation about the picture - at worst there 
was a cock-up. Capa didn't know which pictures had worked on the films 
he sent to Paris. Anyone who's ever taken pictures in a shocking, 
extreme, and fast moving environment like combat will know that you 
don't know what you've got until you see the results [I should perhaps 
point out that I've never been a combat photographer, just to save any 

The picture editor in Paris would have looked at that shot and said 
"Wow!", or perhaps "Sacre Bleu!", and started trying to sell it. They 
couldn't very well check with Capa in Aragon or wherever he was before 
captioning it - they would just have to make it up. They sold it, it 
became famous, Capa's career was launched, and the rest is history. Why 
worry about it now when we'll never know what was happening when he 
pressed the shutter 70 years ago?


Paul Hardy Carter
+44 (0)20 7871 7553

On 21 Mar 2006, at 22:02, B. D. Colen wrote:

> If a photo is presented as a factual representation of an event, it 
> damn
> well better be that; if it's presented as an artistic statement, it's
> factual truth is irrelevant. The photo in question was shot by a photo
> journalist, on assignment, covering a war. It was presented as fact. 
> If it
> was posed, it is not art - it is fraud. But I happen to believe that 
> it is
> what it purports to be. :-)

Replies: Reply from bdcolen at (B. D. Colen) ([Leica] WAS: enough with Olympus NOW HCB)
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In reply to: Message from bdcolen at (B. D. Colen) ([Leica] WAS: enough with Olympus NOW HCB)