Joe Rosenthal, photographer of the famed image of six men raising the American flag at Iwo Jima, died Sunday in California. He was 94.
Rosenthal, who had been rejected from the armed services because of poor eyesight, worked as an AP photographer. His Pulitzer-Prize winning photograph might never have happened if he hadn’t followed his instincts up Mount Surabachi in spite of having heard that a flag had already been raised. Instead, he got there just in time to witness servicement erecting a second, larger flag.
Ten years later, he wrote: “Out of the corner of my eye, I had seen the men start the flag up. I swung my camera and shot the scene. That is how the picture was taken, and when you take a picture like that, you don’t come away saying you got a great shot. You don’t know.”
The photograph from Iwo Jima has been called one of the top 100 journalism photographs of the 20th century in a New York University survey, and it is perhaps the most well known photograph from World War II.