As discussed in the earlier post, some photos have been exposed as being misleading and untruthful and Robert Capa’s Spanish solider being shot in the head was no different.
”When The Falling Soldier was published in the July 12, 1937, issue of Life magazine, the caption stated, “Robert Capa’s camera catches a Spanish soldier the instant he is dropped by a bullet through the head in front of Córdoba.” Over the following years and decades, during and after Capa’s death, the photograph was widely published without any questions ever being raised about its reliability as an unposed document.”
”The allegation that Capa had posed his photograph was first made by O.D. Gallagher, a South African-born journalist, who, as a correspondent for the London Daily Express,had covered the Spanish Civil War, at first from the Nationalist (Franco) side and later from the Republican. Gallagher told Phillip Knightley — who published the story in his book The First Casualty: From the Crimea to Vietnam; The War Correspondent as Hero, Propagandist, and Myth Maker (1975) — that “at one stage of the war he and Capa were sharing a hotel room.” (Knightley does not tell us where or when during the war Gallagher had shared a room with Capa.) Gallagher told Knightley that at that time “there had been little action for several days, and Capa and others complained to the Republican officers that he could not get any pictures. Finally . . . a Republican officer told them he would detail some troops to go withCapa to some trenches nearby, and they would stage some manoeuvres for them to photograph.”
The debate over Capa’s photo and its authenticity was brought about by a man named Jose Manuel Susperregui, a University proffessor who claims his photo is fake.
“While not mentioned in the article, the Spanish newspaper’s claim is based upon the work of professor José Manuel Susperregui, who teaches communications studies at País Vasco University in Spain, and an analysis that he published in his recent book Sombras de la Fotografía (Shadows of Photography). Professor Susperregui provides compelling evidence that Death of a loyalist militiaman was photographed in Llano de Banda, an area of countryside close to the small village of Espejo, and not in Cerro Muriano (45 km from Espejo), where Capa claims the photo was taken. Historians say there wasn’t a battle in Espejo on September 5, 1936, when the photograph was taken, so the death must have been faked.”
The provided evidence and discussion seems to place Capa in the same position as Walski, a faker who took the chance of creating a dishonest picture. One question that seems pertinent is can Capa and Walski be considered the same?
Walski’s photo had been a digital forgery, using two photos to make the third. Robert Capa’s photo was staged and the difference has to be identified. Capa’s deception seems worse than Walski’s due to several factors. One main reason is because the longevity of the authenticity of the photo, the public feels a stronger sense of deceit compared to Walski as his photo was public for a far shorter time than Capa. The content of the photos is highly relevant because although both photogrphers faked their images in one way or another, Capa’s included death being captured directly infront of the camera, and also the world. Further reserach into the matter surfaced the truth to who the soldier was and how the fake had been manifested.
“We also know, due to an obituary uncovered by Alicante historian Miguel Pascual Mira, that the militiaman depicted in Capa’s photo is not Federico Borrell García as previously thought.”
The issue has raised plenty of discussion and Hugo Doménech and Raúl M. Riebenbauer made a documentary about the debating factors that leads them to the conclusion that the photo is a fake.
The link below leads to a trailer of the documentary, ‘La Sombra Del Iceberg’
Walski had a less extreme subject in his fake and his forgery was simply to emphasise his point, making the photos hard to compare on a contextual basis. However, the fact remains that the photos are both deceitful and their reputations deserve the repercussions.
Wars can generate plenty of competition which might be able to explain the high number of photo fakes during World War 2. The Ukrainian photographer Yevgeny Khaldei had enhanced the smoke in his epic photo of the raising of the flag over the Reichstag in 1945.
The image below was the ‘original’ photo, although the photo had been staged entirely.