A Heroic Image: The Korda Photograph



It's been thirty-four years since the Cuban photographer, Alberto Diaz Gutierrez (Korda), shot this famous picture of Che Guevara. It is perhaps one of the best-known images of all time--it has been reproduced throughout the world--and has appeared on posters, T-shirts, ashtrays, stamps, and on virtually any surface capable of holding an image. Of course, Che Guevara possessed all the qualities necessary to becom an icon for the ages--he was handsome, youthful, audacious, and, above all, an idealist. All the aesthetic and moral attributes came together in this extraodinarily charismatic human being, attributes that were perfectly captured by Korda. Che Guevara was photographed often, but no other image of his has captured the world's imagination, as has Korda's famous image of Che.


The picture was taken on 5 March, 1960, during a memorial service held for the victims of an act of sabotage that had occurred in Havana harbor. While Fidel Castro was eulogizing the victims, Che unexpectedly appeared on the rostrum for a brief moment. Korda instantly snapped the picture, and it was only later, while developing the film, that he realized what his camera had captured. He enlarged the picture, cropping out all the extraneuos elements, converting an otherwise ordinary snapshot, into a lasting portrait of a revolutionary. In an instant he had captured what is, undoubtedly, one of the world's best-known images.


The Original Photograph