His Service

M-1-GarandIn 1943, with the Allied invasion of Europe imminent, a newly drafted 21-year old Tony Vaccaro applied to the US Army Signal Corps. He had developed a passion for photography and knew he wanted to photograph the war. “They said I was too young to do this,” Tony says, holding his finger as if taking a photo, “but not too young to do this,” turning his finger forward, pulling a gun trigger. 

His Camera

Argus_C3Not one to be denied, Tony went out and purchased a $47.00 Argus C3 and carried the camera into the war with him. He would fight with the 83rd Infantry Division for the next 272 days, playing two roles – a combat infantryman on the front lines and a photographer who would take roughly 8,000 photographs of the war. 

His Art

Negative-Sheet-6In the decades that followed the war, Tony would go on to become a renowned commercial photographer for magazines such as Look, Life, and Flair, but it is his collection of war photos, images that capture the rarely seen day-to-day reality of life as a soldier, that is his true legacy.

World War II Images

“I'm gonna buy a camera, learn how to use it, and show the world the real pictures of the war.”

Michelantonio 'Tony' Vaccaro

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Lysney Addario
Lynsey Addario
Pulitzer Prize-winning photojournalist who has photographed conflict for 30 years
“Having the camera in front of my face keeps me focused on the image… to almost look at a situation surgically, almost as if I can stay one step removed.”
Jim Estrin
James Estrin
Senior Photographer for the New York Times
“Tony was totally focused on telling the truth and telling the hard and difficult and brutal truths and to do so he was willing to put his life at risk.”
Hicks
Tyler Hicks
Pulitzer Prize-winning photographer for the New York Times
“The still image is so important, it taps into a completely different part of the brain, it taps into part of the brain that retains memory in a completely different way than the moving image does.”
Alex Kershaw
Alex Kershaw
New York Times best-selling author and historian
“Certainly what Tony went through… he would have known that he would either get killed or badly wounded. That was the only way back to the US for him and everybody he knew around him. So knowing that, what keeps you going is fighting for the guys around you.”
Morris
John G. Morris
Photo editor of Life Magazine during World War II/ Robert Capa’s editor
“… the truth about war is often very grim, so great war photos tend to be photos of tragedy.”
Anne Tucker
Anne Wilkes Tucker
Photography curator and curator of the comprehensive exhibition WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY
“I’ve looked at well over a million war pictures and looking at the moment of death is incredibly rare, like in the ones and twos.”