"'All you need,' he once said as a noted photographer orated on the
psychology behind one of his pictures, 'is a little bit of luck and
enough muscle to click the shutter.' He might have added: a good
eye, a heart and a knowing nose for news. For all of these were
obvious in his work."
(Judith Friedberg on David Seymour in "Photographic")
David "Chim" Seymour was one of the Magnum Founders and a Magnum
Member since 1947.
American, b. Poland 1911, d. Suez 1956
David Szymin was born in 1911 in Warsaw into a family of publishers
that produced works in Yiddish and Hebrew. His family moved to
Russia at the outbreak of the First World War, returning to Warsaw
After studying printing in Leipzig and chemistry and physics at the
Sorbonne in the 1930s, Szymin stayed on in Paris. David Rappaport, a
family friend who owned the pioneering picture agency Rap, lent him
a camera. One of Szymin's first stories, about night workers, was
influenced by Brassa?'s Paris de Nuit (1932). Szymin - or 'Chim' -
began working as a freelance photographer. From 1934, his picture
stories appeared regularly in Paris-Soir and Regards. Through Maria
Eisner and the new Alliance agency, Chim met Henri Cartier-Bresson
and Robert Capa.
From 1936 to 1938 Chim photographed the Spanish Civil War, and after
it was over he went to Mexico on an assignment with a group of
Spanish Republican émigrés. On the outbreak of the Second World War
he moved to New York, where he adopted the name David Seymour. Both
his parents were killed by the Nazis. Seymour served in the US Army
(1942-45), winning a medal for his work in intelligence.
In 1947, along with Cartier-Bresson, Capa, George Rodger, and
William Vandivert, he founded Magnum Photos. The following year he
was commissioned by UNICEF to photograph Europe's children in need.
He went on to photograph major stories across Europe, Hollywood
stars on European locations, and the emergence of the State of
Israel. After Robert Capa's death he became the new president of
Magnum. He held this post until 10 November 1956, when, traveling
near the Suez Canal to cover a prisoner exchange, he was killed by
Egyptian machine-gun fire.
1931/33 Chemistry and Physics, Sorbonne, Paris
1931 Leipzig Akademie der Graphischen und Buch Kuenste
2005 David Seymour, Phaidon Press Ltd, UK
2003 David Seymour, Chim, Institut Valencia d’Art Modern, Spain
1996 Chim: The Photographs of David Seymour (text by Cornell Capa
Cartier-Bresson), Bulfinch Press, USA
1980 Robert Capa, David Seymour: les grandes photos de la guerre
1976 Front Populaire (with Robert Capa), Le Chêne, France
1974 David Seymour Chim, 1911-1956, Editions Michel Brient, France;
1966 David Seymour ('Chim'), Paragraphic Books, USA
1957 Little Ones, Heibonsha, Japan
1950 The Vatican, Behind the Scenes in the Holy City, Grosset &
1949 Children of Europe, UNESCO