Capa Controversy: A Photograph’s Dilemma by Yarie Vazquez

It only takes one picture. One picture can make the whole world question your authenticity. This may not be true for most of us, but it was and continues to be a question Robert Capa endured(s) before and after his death. Capa, known for his extensive work in war photojournalism photographed the death of a soldier during the battle at Cerro Muriano in 1936. But instead of being acknowledged for his “lucky shot” Capa’s photograph sparked controversy and backlash, where people until this day try to debunk and deem his photographed as a staged event. After reading Robert Whelan’s arguments for the authenticity of the photograph I still find myself feeling completely indifferent by Capa’s photograph. Whelan’s arguments are completely valid, Whelan offers us the perspective of a homicide detective who claims the authenticity of the photograph by analyzing the soldier’s body position. Whelan also gives us a timeline of Capa’s whereabouts and eyewitnesses of the event during the time the photograph was taken. But with all these arguments, I still will not budge. Death of a Loyalist Soldier shows us the devastating realities that war creates. Whether this photographed was staged or not it doesn’t make it less powerful or completely surreal. War is real and people die in war. Authenticity of an event doesn’t disenfranchise Capa’s work or the reality of the world at that period of time. Sometimes you need to create in order to spark change. In Whelan’s words Death of a Loyalist Soldier is “…perhaps the greatest war photograph ever made.”

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