The Pictures of Photographer Tony Vaccaro

Author & Director:
Daniel Ast | Juergen Ast

Commissioning Editor:
Rolf Bergmann


Daniel Ast | Juergen Ast

astfilm productions | RBB

His eyes and camera fixate on the one decisive and fleeting moment he wants to capture: no matter the topic it is intimate, authentic and deeply human. This was how American photo journalist Tony Vaccaro selected his images which became famous around the world. He was not merely an observer but a participant in the photographs. Tens of thousands of these photos now document the story of his life.

Vaccaro (95) is the last living photo journalist who chronicled World War II and the immediate post war years in Germany and other European count. Later he worked for the magazines Life, Look and Flair. His fashion photos and portraits found a worldwide audience. Photo journalists were the story tellers of their era. In "Living for the Moment", Vaccaro tells the story of his life and work. Amid today's instant pictures and selfies and the online flood of images Vaccaro's photos remain powerful. The have become icons in photojouralism. Through Vaccaro's eyes, millions of people have gotten to see Pablo Picasso, Jackson Pollock and Georgia O’Keeffe. Peggy Guggenheim, Grace Kelly and Sophia Loren, Maria Callas and Frank Lloyd Wright.

Vaccaro's extraordinary career began on D-Day, 1944, on Omaha Beach in Normandy. He was a soldier of the 83rd US Infantry Division. In one hand he carried his M1 rifle; in the other his Argus C-3 camera. Advancing through Europe, Tony shot thousands of pictures, documenting war, life and death. Vaccaro remained in Europe until 1949. As photographer for "Stars and Stripes", the newspaper of the US Armed Forces, he chronicled the first years of peace, most notably Germany's new beginning. The son of Italian immigrants and a resident of Italy from 1925 to 1939, Tony made frequent trips to his former home where he created stunning images in the spirit of neorealism.

Back in the United States, Vaccaro began his third career, this one as a fashion and portrait photographer. For three decades, his work was featured in leading magazines. Vaccaro's photos of the World Trade Center in Manhattan come full circle. He took the first pictures of architectural models when the World Trade Center was being planned, and the last ones on September 11, 2001 when the Twin Towers fell. Half a century after World War II, Vaccaro would again document destruction.

"Living for the Moment: The Pictures of Photographer Tony Vaccaro" is an extraordinary documentation of an extraordinary life, told through the photos of one of the last great magicians of the "golden century of photography". The film spans half a century of world history and the entirely of human experience.