Claire Yaffa took her first photograph 48 years ago when her son was 18 months old and it was the beginning of her journey, first as a mother, then as a photographer. She has worked extensively for The New York Times and Associated Press. Her photographs have appeared in countless influential publications and have been exhibited at major venues in the US and around the world.
Remembering Cornell Capa
The Masters of Photography Series has celebrated photographers from the past and the present. One of my first subjects, when I began photographing in 1968, was Cornell Capa (April 10, 1918 – May 23, 2008). I became aware of him as a photographer when “The Concerned Photographer” was published. An exhibition of the photographers in the book took place at The Riverside Church in New York. The photographers were Werner Bischof, André Kertész, Leonard Freed, Robert Capa, David Seymour (Chim) and Dan Weiner.
Edited by Cornell Capa, it was dedicated to the ideals of photojournalism. The book’s dedication was, “to photography which demands personal commitment and concern for mankind.” As early as 1968, Cornell Capa wrote:
Today so many pictures are taken that no one is really interested in what has gone on before. Man’s witness to his own times, dies with him … Technological advances in camera design have made photography seem easy. It has become so popular so used and abused that because of its popularity, it is in danger of losing its own self-respect as well as the trust in its artistry and veracity. “The Concerned Photographer” exhibition and book were born out of respect for the images of the past, anxiety for the photographic direction of the present and concern about the existence of true documentation of the future.
With the rapid changing world of photography, Cornell Capa’s concerns mirror those of today. Capa had a distinguised career as a photojournalist and founded The International Center of Photography in 1974, which became one of the finest and most influential institutions for exhibitions, collection and education. It became a school for aspiring photographers and a public who became more interested because of what Cornell Capa created in the world of photography. “It would never have happened without Cornell Capa … Cornell Capa is one of the reasons that New York remains the world capital of photography,” wrote Richard Woodward in The New York Times.
Later the “The Concerned Photographer 2” was published with the photographs of Marc Riboud, Roman Vishniac, Bruce Davidson, Gordon Parks, Ernst Haas, Hiroshi Hamaya, Donald McCullin and W. Eugene Smith. Inscribed in his book to me he wrote, “To Claire, who will walk a long journey … and will get there. Fondly Cornell, January, 1974.”
Dear Cornell, thank you for showing me the way … remembering you always.
– Claire Yaffa
You can also see more of Claire’s work on her website, www.claireyaffa.com.