Larry Burrows began his career during one of the most exciting and harrowing times for photojournalists: World War II. Life Magazine’s London bureau hired 16-year old Burrows as a “tea boy,” essentially an errand runner for the staff. His first job gave him exposure to some of the world’s best news images. Soon, Burrows became a “shooter” in his own right, taking photographs of Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway and others.
Burrows is best known for his nine years of work covering the Vietnam War. His photographs reveal the human perspective behind the fighting, the precise angle Life was looking for in their war coverage. Burrows often shot color film, while many of his counterparts used black and white exclusively. Color gave his images a greater sense of immediacy and a heightened reality.
A three-time winner of the prestigious Robert Capa Award from the Overseas Press Club of America for his “superlative photography requiring exceptional courage and enterprise,” ironically, Burrows met the same fate as Capa. Like Capa 17 years earlier, in 1971 on his way to cover South Vietnam’s expansion of the conflict into Laos, Burrows and four other photojournalists were killed when their helicopter crashed under enemy fire.