Tony VaccaroWar and Peace
2017-06-30 - 2017-09-17
In 2016 HBO Films premiered "Under Fire: The Untold Story of Private First Class Tony Vaccaro". The film tells the story of how Tony survived the war, fighting the enemy while also documenting his experience at great risk, developing his photos in combat helmets at night and hanging the negatives from tree branches. The film also encompasses a wide range of contemporary issues regarding combat photography such as the ethical challenges of witnessing and recording conflict, the ways in which combat photography helps to define how wars are perceived by the public, and the sheer difficulty of staying alive while taking photos in a war zone.
Born in Greensburg, Pennsylvania on December 20, 1922, Tony Vaccaro spent the first years of his life in the village of Bonefro, Italy after his family left America under threat from the Mafia. Both of his parents had died by the time he was eight years old and he was raised by an uncaring aunt. When World War II broke out, the American Ambassador in Rome ordered Tony to return to the States. He settled in with his sisters in New Rochelle, NY where he joined his high school camera club. A year later, at the age of 21, Tony was drafted into the war, and by the spring of 1944 he was photographing war games in Wales. By June, now a combat infantryman in the 83rd Infantry Division, he was on a boat heading toward Omaha Beach, six days after the first landings at Normandy. Denied access to the Signal Corps, Tony was determined to photograph the war, and had his portable 35mm Argus C-3 with him from the start. For the next 272 days, Tony fought on the front lines of the war.
After the war, Tony remained in Germany to photograph the rebuilding of the country for Stars And Stripes magazine. Returning to the US in 1950, Tony started his career as a commercial photographer, eventually working for virtually every major publication: Look, Life, Harper’s Bazaar, Town and Country, Newsweek, and many more. Tony went on to become one the most sought after photographers of his day and now 94, Tony still carries a camera and oversee the creation of his prints.