Larry Burrows

(1926 - 1971) British
Larry Burrows


Born in London, Larry Burrows began working in the city's press in 1942, first in the art department of the Daily Express; he soon learned photography and moved on to the darkrooms of the Keystone photography agency and LIFE. By 1961, Burrows had established himself as a staff photographer for LIFE and was covering the Vietnam War. Although he was a war correspondent for several international conflicts, including those in Lebanon, Iraq, Congo, and Cyprus, he is best known for his coverage of the war in Vietnam. Burrows did what he could to experience the war as a soldier: he flew combat missions with air crews, lived in military camps, and stayed at the front lines with the GIs during enemy fire. Such dedication eventually cost him his life, when his helicopter was shot down over Laos. LIFE ran Burrows's photographs from Vietnam frequently between 1962 and 1971, devoting many pages to his dramatic color photographs. Among his most important photo essays were "The Air War" (September 9, 1966) and "One Ride with Yankee Papa 13" (April 16, 1965). During his lifetime, his work was exhibited at the Royal Photographic Society in London, in 1971, and the Rochester Institute of Technology sponsored a traveling exhibition of his photography in 1972. He won many honors for his photography, including two Robert Capa Awards, the 1967 Magazine Photographer of the Year Award, and the 1967 British Press Picture of the Year Award.
Burrows's method of photojournalism was deliberate and meticulous, not dependent on chance and instinct. He carefully planned his photographs, dictating their scenario, setting, and composition on the basis of his observations of the battlefront, and often spending several days on a single image. Although his method may seem counter-intuitive for war photography, he captured many of the most effective and memorable images of the war in Vietnam.
Lisa Hostetler
Handy et al. Reflections in a Glass Eye: Works from the International Center of Photography Collection, New York: Bulfinch Press in association with the International Center of Photography, 1999, p. 210.
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