Thread: Capa
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Old 02-26-2019   #25
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Originally Posted by michaelwj View Post
First italics: Assuming that the hypothetical missing photos were censored, would they go to the trouble of removing the emulsion? I would have thought they'd just shred them and be done.

Second italics: Possibly more likely but we'll never know. However, as Peter says they took the photos, they were just either held back, or in the case of the Leipzig photos they were published with the faces covered.

I still believe he shot what he needed and got out of there to save himself and meet deadlines. The story about the melting emulsion was just the darkroom staffs best guess at why the rolls were mostly blank, after all, why would the great Robert Capa not have taken more photos?

I pretty much agree with what you say but as regards your last sentence I do not believe the rolls of film were mostly blank at least not originally. On reading the chapter about this in "Blood and Champagne" it seems clear that when the rolls came out of the development and washing baths the initial report phoned through to his boss John Morris from the laboratory dark room was that Capa had performed brilliantly and got some excellent shots. There was no suggestion at this stage that he only got 11 exposures. But following developing and washing comes drying..............

It was shortly after this - after the film had been put into the drying cabinet to dry that one of the staff came running into Morris's office to say the films had been ruined due to the cabinet over heating. When they checked only 11 negatives were still printable, the rest were blurred beyond use or even recognition in some cases. This is one reason I am confident that the author of the article in question is wrong at least on this point- the accounts given not just by Capa but also by at least 3 Life staff members back Capa up. Capa must have stayed long enough on the beaches to load and expose 4 rolls of film. He was using two Contax bodies so each had to be reloaded at each once. And if anyone has used Contax they will understand they were just as fiddly to load as other cameras of that era - including if memory serves me correctly, removing the back and baseplate. Not a trivial matter with shaking hands and when wet cold, frightened as well as ducking for cover.

So it seems clear to me that at least according to accounts given by Life staff who were directly involved, Capa partly or wholly exposed 4 rolls as claimed, only to lose most of them as described in the lab. Capa may have a motive to lie if he had done a funk and run away from Omaha beach with no more than a handful of blurry shots. But why would those who were involved at Life magazine wish to make themselves look foolish if they were not telling the truth. They had no stake in upholding Capa's reputation - their loyalty was to Life magazine.
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