Long overshadowed by his colleagues Henri Cartier-Bresson, Robert Capa and David (“Chim”) Seymour, Rodger co-founded Magnum Photos with them in 1947. Among many achievements he took some of the most memorable pictures of the London Blitz, was a World War II correspondent for LIFE magazine on sixty-two war fronts, and after escaping on foot from the Burmese jungle into India followed the American and Allied troops who liberated Copenhagen, Amsterdam, Brussels and Paris. In April 1945, he was the first to record the liberation of Bergen-Belsen concentration camp, bringing the news to the American public in LIFE magazine.
This experience of man’s inhumanity to man was primary to his decision to leave war photography and explore other civilizations. Starting in 1947 he organized more than forty expeditions to Africa and the Middle East and became, with his first wife Cicely and second wife Jinx, the best chronicler of the lives of African tribal people. The first to photograph the Nuba tribe’s fighting contests in the Sudan, he was also the only person ever to photograph the Rain Forest Pygmies ’s courtship dances in Uganda, one of many rituals he knew were bound to disappear. In the 1950s Rodger went on to travel back in Africa and to Haiti and Bali, also organizing several expeditions in the Sahara desert that lead to publications in the National Geographic with texts by his wife Jinx Rodger.
In 1979-81, three decades after he had been denied access by the tribe, through a chance encounter in a European hospital he was able to go back and photograph a Masai circumcision ceremony, never before witnessed by any foreigner.
Author Carole Naggar worked seven years on this biography with unlimited access to Rodger’s archives.
All images © George Rodge
" If George had only been a war photographer or only worked in tribal Africa, or only been a photo innovator of the picture story, or only been a founder member of Magnum- any one of these would have given him a place in photo history, but all of these along with his tragic personal history makes this book essential reading for anyone studying photography"
-- Eve Arnold,photographer
" Many of his images contribute to our collective memory: the London Blitz, Bergen-Belsen, Paris on the day after liberation.And George recorded the magnificent Nuba tribe long before Leni Riefenstahl and with infinitely more humanity. George Rodger belongs to the great tradition of gentlemen explorers and adventurers which is disappariing. His work is a moving testimony through time and space"
-- Henri Cartier-Bresson