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Concerned Photographers

The pioneers

In this issue and the next, Red Cross Red Crescent features a selection of images tracing the evolution of documentary photography over more than half a century.
The photographers
Robert Capa and George Rodger,
Naples, Italy, 1943

The last days of Kuomintang Henri Cartier-Bresson, Peking, China, 1949

The Luftwaffe bombers fly over Bilbao Robert Capa, Spain, 1936

The period between the 1930s and 1950s saw the emergence of an elite group of documentary photographers who shared the belief that a photograph can convey a strong humanist message and provoke an active social response. The names of these young reporters were David Seymour (Chim), Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa, Ernst Haas, Philip Jones Griffiths, George Rodger and W. Eugene Smith. Collectively, they were called the "Concerned Photographers". Their professional partnership evolved into the organization known today as Magnum Photos, Inc.


"A baby was found with its head under a rock. Its head was lopsided and its eyes were masses of pus. Unfortunately, it was alive. We hoped that it would die... and each time I pressed the shutter release it was a shouted condemnation hurled with the hope that the pictures might survive through the years, with the hope that they might echo through the minds of men in the future - causing them caution and remembrance and realization.

"Know that these people of the pictures were my family - no matter how often they reflected the tortured features of another race. Accident of birth, accident of place - the bloody dying child I held momentarily while the life-fluid seeped through my shirt and burned my heart - that child was my child."

W. Eugene Smith, Saipan, 1944

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