Here’s something I didn’t know about walking. I discovered it in this month’s Vanity Fair, in an article about the photographer Robert Capa, who covered the D-Day landings and created some of the greatest war photographs ever seen, like this one, soldiers from the 16th Regiment of the 1st Infantry Division walking, or I suppose wading, on Omaha Beach on June 6th 1944.
In the last days of May 1944 Capa was in London, on call for Life magazine, waiting for the summons to go and meet up with the U.S. army. The call came and he went down to Weymouth, in Dorset where he was given some necessities; an envelope of francs, a pack of condoms, and a French phrase book that offered suggestions on how he might converse with French girls. One was, “Bonjour mademoiselle, voulez-vous fair une promenade avec moi?”
Capa was killed on May 25th 1954, having accepted another Life commission, this time to accompany a French regiment fighting in Indochina. The were under fire, in particularly dangerous territory, and following his own advice “If your pictures aren’t good enough, you aren’t close enough,” he got out of the Jeep he was travelling in and started walking up the road to improve his chances of getting a good picture. He stepped on a landmine, his left leg was destroyed and he was wounded in his chest. He was dead before they managed to get him to a field hospital.
Capa seems to have been one of those men who felt more alive taking photographs in war rather than peace, but he certainly took at least one great and joyous peacetime walking picture; this one of Picasso and Francoise Gilot (and some other guy) on the beach at Golfe-Juan, August 1948.