GUY RAZ, host:
Another toast now, to the life and life's work of photographer Cornell Capa. He died yesterday but his legacy lives on in the museum he founded — the International Center of Photography in New York — and in the images he'd taken during a quarter-century with Life magazine.
Cornell Capa covered everything from a coup d'etat in Argentina to the Six-Day War in the Middle East, from political portraits of Adlai Stevenson to celebrity shots of Marilyn Monroe.
In 1994, my colleague, Jacki Lyden, spoke with Cornell Capa on this program. As they flipped through stacks of photos he'd taken over the years, Jacki asked if he was ever haunted by what he'd seen through his lens.
Mr. CORNELL CAPA (Late Photographer): I remember every picture that I have ever taken, which is a terrible load to carry.
RAZ: Cornell Capa was born in Hungary in 1918, five years after his brother Robert, a war photographer probably best remembered for his striking images of the Spanish Civil War.
Cornell Capa focused his camera on scenes of politics and social justice. He chronicled the plight of mentally ill children in Russia and the presidential campaign of John F. Kennedy.
Capa told Jacki Lyden about a philosophy he called the concerned photographer. He rejected the idea of being detached and objective.
Mr. CAPA: To really be a passioned person, you can't really be objective. And if you're objective, your pictures will not be very passionate. War, poverty, crime, drugs — the world is going around the same axis all the time, and the concerned photographer is going to make the world visible to everybody. Maybe they're going to end wars, maybe they're going to end poverty, and we are going to end all kinds of famine because the power of photography, we didn't do all that. It didn't quite work out that way.
JACKI LYDEN: We're still looking at images of famine, we're still looking at images of war. Is it…
Mr. CAPA: Frustrating. It is frustrating, but the concerned photographers who are caring about the survival of the human race in spite of all the plagues that confront it, but we can't fix it; of course we can't because nobody can fix it. But we make you aware of it and we're eyewitness to bring it to you. Maybe you realize what it's all about.
RAZ: Photographer Cornell Capa died Friday at his home in Manhattan. He'd been battling Parkinson's disease. He was 90 years old.
NPR transcripts are created on a rush deadline by a contractor for NPR, and accuracy and availability may vary. This text may not be in its final form and may be updated or revised in the future. Please be aware that the authoritative record of NPR's programming is the audio.