Gerda Taro

Pioneering female war photographer

Today marks the 108th birthday of Gerda Taro, widely considered to be the first female photojournalist to cover war… she was also the first to die doing so.  Google celebrated the day with the following Doodle:

Gerda Taro

Toro’s was born Gerda Pohorylle, in 1910, Stuttgart.  As a Jew, the rise of the Nazi Party forced her out of Germany in 1934, separated from her family who she never saw again.  Gerta moved to Paris where she began her career as a photojournalist, alongside André Friedmann, a man who she met in the French capital in 1935.

Taro and CapaFred Stein Archive/Getty Images (1936) Gerda Taro and Robert Capa, Paris.

Pohorylle and Friedmann began to publish works under the fictional American pseudonym of Robert Capa, a name he would take on as his own, whilst Gerta changed hers to Gerda Taro in homage to Japanese artist Taro Okamoto and Greta Garbo.  The pair began their work in war photography in 1936 when they travelled to Barcelona to cover the Spanish Civil War, both producing photographs under the name Robert Capa.  She not only photographed the violence of the time, but passionately campaigned against fascism that was rife across Europe.

Republican MilitiawomenGerda Taro/The International Center of Photography (1936) Republican militiawoman training on the beach, outside Barcelona

Taro was covering the Battle of Brunete, near Madrid, in 1937 when tragedy struck and a car she was travelling in was hit by a tank. She died the next day due to her wounds at the age of just 26.  This left Capa heart-broken and he never went on to marry.  While photographing French manoeuvres in the Red River delta, Capa stepped on an anti-personnel mine and was killed on May 25 1954.

Taro and Capa both died while in the midst of the action, camera in hand,  committed to their cause and to their trade.

Taro initially worked with a medium format 6 x 6 cm Old Standard Rolleiflex TLR camera with a non coated Carl Zeiss Jena Tessar 75mm f/3.5 lens.  In the final five months of her life (possibly influenced by Capa´s chromed Leica III (Model F) and Summar 5 cm f/2 lens), Taro worked with a black lacquer Leica II (Model D) with Nickel Elmar 50mm f/3.5 lens.  Further details HERE.

Leica Model II

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