Today part 5/5 on the founders of the Magnum photographic agency: William (Bill) Vandivert. I started this post about half a year ago and never even got round to finishing it! I must say that I found it quite hard to find any information on this man as Magnum itself seems to have erased him from their collective memory and I had to take my information from conflicting sources.

William Vandivert was born on the 16th of August, 1912 in Evanston, Illinois. He studied chemistry before making his first photographs for the Herald Examiner in Chicago in 1935 and later for LIFE magazine, who would send him to London in 1938 to report on the brewing war activities. Vandivert would report on WWII until 1945, where he was the first photographer to gain access to Hitler’s bunker after he and Eva Braun committed suicide.

During the war years, he had met Robert Capa and together they worked on the idea of an independent photo agency. Both he and his wife Rita would become founding members of the MAGNUM agency in 1947, but would also both leave in the subsequent year. William continued its career as a free photographer and later became known for his nature documentaries.


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