Carl Mydans* – World War II in Europe and Asia

10.05.2011 in09:14 in People -->


Carl Mydans (May 20, 1907 – August 16, 2004) was an American photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration and Life magazine.

Mydans became devoted to photography while in college at Boston University. While working on the Boston University News as an undergraduate, his first reporting jobs were for The Boston Globe and the Boston Herald. After college, he went to New York as a writer for American Banker and then in 1935 to Washington to join a group of photographers in the Farm Security Administration.

In 1936, he joined Life as one of its earliest staff photographers (Alfred Eisenstaedt, Margaret Bourke-White, Thomas McAvoy and Peter Stackpole were the original staff photographers) and a pioneering photojournalist.

Mydans recorded photographic images of life and death throughout Europe and Asia during World War II. In 1941, the photographer and his wife Shelley, herself a journalist, were captured by the invading Japanese forces in the Philippines, held for nearly a year in Manila, then for another year in Shanghai, China, before they were released as part of a prisoner-of-war exchange.

Mydans was sent back to war in Europe for pivotal battles in Italy and France. By 1944, Mydans was back in the Philippines to cover MacArthur’s landing, where he took some of his most famous pictures.

Some of Mydans’s more famous pictures include: the bombing of Chongqing, the Japanese surrender aboard the U.S.S. Missouri in 1945; angry French citizens shaving the heads of women accused of sleeping with Germans during the occupation in 1944; a roomful of excited royal youngsters and their staid older relatives in 1954; and a 1950 portrait of Douglas MacArthur smoking a pipe