RANDOLPH, NJ- “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you’re not close enough,” said the famous World War II photojournalist, Robert Capa. Marc Aronson, a facility member in the Master of Information program at Rutgers University, visited journalism students at Randolph High School in March to enlighten them about the history of photojournalism. His most recent book, Eyes of the World, co-written with his wife, Marina Budhos, details the bravery of the infamous war photojournalists and lovers, Robert Capa and Gerda Taro. Aronson opened the student eyes to the history of photojournalism by telling the pictorial story of Capa and Taro’s immense courage as war photographers.
Aronson took his audience on a visual journey through selected events of the 20th century, detailing the Spanish War, Nazi Germany, and World War II. He explained in great detail how significant historical moments were important for the development of photojournalism. Aronson opened the presentation on the topic of D-Day, enthusiastically exploring how the famous battle was only captured by one photographer, Robert Capa, who would go on to be known as one of the most legendary lensmen in the history of photojournalism.
The presentation continued with the introduction of Robert Capa and Gerda Taro’s backstory. In Paris 1934 there was a rise of anti-immigrant and anti-Jewish sentiment. The two photographers, both Jewish and living in France at the time, disguised themselves as freelance American photographers to flee from Hitler’s religious attacks.
As Aronson explained, France and Spain were politically divided at the time of the photographers’ work. There was a fascist revolt in Barcelona and women began fighting for freedom. Capa and Taro were “humanizing the conflict,” said Aronson. He explained that their up-close and personal pictures of people in despair during the war put a human face to the conflict. Viewers felt a real connection to the people shown in the photos.
“The Falling Soldier” by Robert Capa became “one of the most famous photos ever taken,” said Aronson. The photograph featured a shot soldier at the moment of his death. People who viewed Capa and Taro’s photographs were astonished by how close the photojournalists got to the dangerous action.
Aronson’s informative lesson garnered questions from students and teachers alike. Throughout the session, he also made references to his book, Eyes of the World.
Eyes of the World covers photojournalists “efforts to unite the world through photos,” according to Aronson. His work discusses the birth of photojournalism and its development throughout the years. He emphasized that photos were used to make people feel something, and that journalists were finding ways to become more creative with their photos.
Capa and Taro began to put themselves directly in the war zones to capture the action. The photographers were involved in the war, yet they were not targets. On this topic of proximity, Aronson began to talk about guilt. “They feel guilty for making it out alive and heading back to their hotels while there are others fighting in a war,” he said. For Capa and Taro, however, their closeness to the war may have been the ultimate end to their careers.
The presentation left students and teachers on the edge of their seats, but Aronson refused to tell them how this love story ends. “You’ll have to read it to find out,” teased Aronson.
Editor's Note: Isabel Vega, Keyonna Murray, Sophie DiFusco, and Cassie Peo are Randolph High students studying journalism.