David Seymour, or Szymin, was born in Warsaw in 1911, the son of a Polish publisher. In 1929 he studied graphic arts and photography at the academy in Leipzig, where he specialized in the new techniques of printing pictures in colour. In 1931 he moved to Paris to study science at the Sorbonne. However, with the political problems that developed in Poland he was advised to take up photography by David Rappaport, the founder of the Rap agency, who in 1932 provided him with his first 35mm camera. He began to contribute to magazines such as Vu, Regards and Ce Soir, travelling throughout Europe to capture significant events that have left their mark on much of the history of the twentieth century. He also travelled to Spain in 1936 to cover the Civil War, and in his photographs of the plight of the civilian population he achieved some of his finest work.
This book covers the full range of Seymour's career, from early photos of unrest in France for European and American magazines to his UNICEF-sponsored study of children in postwar Europe, which attracted worldwide attention. Among his many photographic essays are the outstanding portraits of personalities such as Bernard Berenson, who were treated with the same intensity as anonymous sitters. A founding member of the Magnum photo agency, Seymour was President at the time of his tragic death while photographing Suez in 1956. This definitive monograph on Seymour is an elegant introduction to one of the key figures in twentieth-century photography.