Tony Vaccaro’s photographic career began on the battlefields of WWII with one of the most harrowing and unflinching visual accounts of war and its immediate aftermath. He later photographed for Look, Life, Flair, and many other top magazines, amassing an extensive collection of portraits of some of the most noted figures of his generation.
Tony Vaccaro is an American photographer known for the photographs that he took during World War II and during the reconstruction of Europe. Drafted into the army in 1943 straight from high school, he applied for the position of photographer with the Army Signal Corps, but was refused because he was too young.
Undaunted, he brought his Argus C3 camera with him to boot camp, and for eleven months after D-Day, served as a private with the 83rd Infantry Division in the European Theater both as a combat infantryman on the front lines and as a self-appointed photographer. By the end of the war, he had over 6,000 photographs.
He remained in Europe for four more years, working for the Army newspaper Stars and Stripes, and documenting the post-war reconstruction. Following his return to the United States in 1949, he had a successful career for over two decades as a fashion and lifestyle photographer for magazines, primarily Life and Look. Vaccaro worked most often as a freelancer and retired in 1982 to Long Island City, NY, where he oversees his studio and archive holding over 600,000 of his images.
Monographs of his wartime photographs, Entering Germany: Photographs 1944-1949 and Shots of War, were published in Germany in 2001 and 2002 respectively and German public television (ARD) aired a documentary based upon Shots of War. More recently, in 2016, a documentary film Underfire: The Untold Story of Pfc. Tony Vaccaro was produced by HBO. He still takes photographs, works 30 hour weeks, and spends time with his grandchildren.