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Brother of the More Famous Robert

Matt Schudel

I enjoy writing about photography, but I hadn't expected to write about two photographers in less than a week. Last week, I wrote about the death of my friend Flip Schulke, whose career was highlighted by his haunting images of the civil rights movement and Martin Luther King Jr. Then, on Friday afternoon (May 23), we learned that Cornell Capa had died at the age of 90.

He was the younger brother of the great wartime photographer Robert Capa, whose dramatic images of the Spanish Civil War and World War II -- particularly the D-Day landings at Normandy -- have become etched in our collective memory as the visual record of 20th-century warfare.

Cornell was almost his brother's equal as a photographer, but as I point out in Saturday's obituary in The Post, he opted for a very different approach, "opening the door to worlds that people would not have seen otherwise."

Cornell Capa found drama in the overlooked corners of life and became one of Life magazine's most accomplished photographers. (Be sure to click on the link for the gallery of photos supplied to us by the Magnum photo agency.)

Robert Capa once said, "If your pictures aren't good enough, you aren't close enough." But, in the end, he got too close. He was killed at the age of 40 when he stepped on a landmine in Vietnam.

Cornell Capa dedicated much of the rest of his life to keeping the memory and the images of his brother alive. In 1974, he founded the International Center of Photography, which is one of the world's premier museums of photography. He never picked up a camera in earnest again. By creating this wonderful institution, however, he may have done more for photography than even his more celebrated brother did.

By Matt Schudel  |  May 24, 2008; 1:26 PM ET
Categories:  Matt Schudel  
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