At the age of 94, when most are settled down, Michael A. “Tony” Vaccaro is out snapping pictures. And not just any pictures—photos that change the way we see the world around us. Growing up between Italy and New York, Tony recalled a trip to the New York World’s Fair in 1939 as “the most amazing and spectacular event” of his youth. Shortly after that, he was introduced to photography by a teacher at his high school.
In 1944, after joining the US Army a year prior, Tony was sent to England, and later went on to serve as a front line infantryman in World War II. During this time, he shot thousands of photographs of the war, from the mundane to the explosive, and everything in between, including a renowned photograph called “The Kiss of Liberation,” which President Eisenhower called his favorite.
When asked about the story behind “The Kiss of Liberation,” Vaccaro explained, “I was at St. Briac when it was early morning on August 14, 1944. No one was at the middle of the town, but at some point people started yelling, ‘We are liberated!’ Women and children ran to the middle of the town to celebrate. They started dancing and singing. I think the G.I. kissing the little girl is the most precious photograph I have ever taken.”
Because of his diligence to portraying the perils of war through photographs, Vaccaro was hailed as the “greatest war photographer of all time” by the BBC.
“When I was not on a night mission, I processed my films in four Army helmets and hung the wet negatives from tree branches to dry,” Vaccaro recalled of his time in the military.
Since his time in the Army, Vaccaro continued his art, photographing a number of subjects like John Fitzgerald Kennedy, The Eisenhower Family, Enzo Ferrari, Greta Garbo, Pablo Picasso, Federico Fellini, Jackson Pollock, Georgia O’ Keeffe, Maria Callas, General George S. Patton, Sophia Loren and many other celebrities of the second half of the twentieth century.
But Vaccaro’s fondness for the military has remained strong through the decades–including his support of military families.
Tony Vacarro Studio has committed to donating 25% of sale proceeds to military support organizations, including NMFA. Among the items for sale are signed prints Vaccaro took of General Patton in 1945 Nuremberg, Germany, seen above.
We are grateful for Mr. Vaccaro’s continued legacy, and his support of organizations, like NMFA that make an impact on our nation’s families.
If you’d like to purchase one of these amazing prints—go to http://tonyvaccaro.studio/portfolio and email firstname.lastname@example.org with the code “Veterans Support Vaccaro.” The code applies until Thanksgiving.
Posted by Shannon Prentice, Content Development Manager