Do you recognize this photo? If not, you are not a creature walking on this globe 😉
It is the iconic photo of Che Guevara. But few people know who made it. Well, the photographers official name is Alberto Diaz Guitiérrez – later he named himself Korda, because it sounded like Kodak – born in Havana in 1928. His international breakthrough was because of this coincidental picture of Guevara.
After traveling to Cuba in the spring, I was so happy to stroll through Cuba’s history again. Last week I had the chance to visit the exhibition on Korda in Ghent, Beauty and Revolution. In the beautiful historical site of the Sint-Pietersabbey you can admire a thorough overview of Korda’s life and a diversified collection of photos.
Alberto struggled through a lot of jobs before he got intrigued by photography. He then started focussing on advertising and fashion photography and soon became a premiere fashion photographer in Cuba. ‘My main aim was to meet women,’ he later confessed.
Like many other fellow citizens his life dramatically changed because of the revolution in 1959. He was touched by such poverty under Batista’s regime that he favored the revolutionary cause. The picture below was taken of a little girl with a stick in her arms to play with.
“It was while on an assignment for Revolución in 1960 that Korda took the famous photo of Che, at a protest rally after a Belgian freighter carrying arms to Cuba was blown up by counter-revolutionaries while being unloaded in Havana harbour, killing more than 100 dock workers.
As he later recalled, it was a damp, cold day. Using a 90mm lens, he was panning his Leica across the figures on the dais when Che’s face jumped into the viewfinder. The look in Che’s eyes startled Korda so much that he instinctively lurched backwards, and immediately pressed the button: “There appears to be a mystery in those eyes, but in reality it is just blind rage at the deaths of the day before, and the grief for their families.” The Guardian
Korda followed Fidel Castro and his rebellions for ten years, being the personal photographer and friend of Castro. In later years he still excels in underwater photography, a more scientific approach. He is one of the most versatile photographers of his era, zooming in on esthetical as well as ethical subjects. Here you see a combination in one picture: a rebel with beautiful women.
When asked for technical advice on photography, Korda answered with this quote of Le Petit Prince, to a bunch of photography students:
You can only see through the heart, what is essential is invisible to the naked eye.
Beauty and revolution: what an exceptional but wonderful combination.
The exhibition lasts till August 19th.
Enjoy your day in Ghent.