Listening to Robert Capa speak about his work and his adventures adds a different dimension to the iconic war photographer. Image above taken by Gerda Taro in 1937 during the Spanish Civil War.
Anyone who develops an interest in photography will inevitably come across the iconic Robert Capa and his timeless work. Reading about him and his life is one thing; listening to him speak about his work and adventures is another, given the decades that have passed since his days as “the greatest war photographer in the world.” Here’s a rare 1947 radio interview with the Hungarian photographer, the only known recording that the world has of his voice.
In celebration of the 100th birth anniversary of Robert Capa in 2013, the International Center of Photography shared a long lost recording of this radio interview. Titled “Bob Capa Tells of Photographic Experiences Abroad”, it was aired on October 20, 1947 on the morning radio show “Hi! Jinx. It was part of the promotion for Capa’s World War II memoir, Slightly Out of Focus, which was published by Henry Hold and Company in the same year.
Here’s the interview, before we go further. It starts with Capa sharing what went down during his trip to USSR with John Steinbeck, then follows with other interesting topics such as how he came up with his name and his equally iconic “Falling Soldier” photo:
Prior to ICP’s release, attempts to find this interview in the national radio archives were unsuccessful. Interestingly, this recording, a 33 1/3 rpm microgroove recording made by an archival recording service called Associated Recording Services, surfaced on ebay, sold by a seller in Western Massachusetts who discovered it years earlier in an estate sale.
To give us an idea how precious this 24-minute recording is, ICP also mentioned that while Capa gave public talks, this was his only radio interview, and he was never interviewed on television. The next best thing would be quick newsreels showing him in action, but without his voice.
One of the highlights of this interview is his description of how the “Falling Soldier” was made, the only known comment straight from Capa himself about the famous (and infamous) snap. “The prize picture is born in the imagination of the editors and the public who sees them,” he said.