Alberto Korda, the man responsible for the now famous photo of Che Guevara
staring out into the distance, is one of Cuba's most well known and respected photographers.
Korda was born Alberto Diaz Gutierrez on September 14, 1928 in Havana
. Having studied business at both Candler College and the Havana Business Academy, Korda's first taste of photography came when he borrowed his father's camera to take pictures of his girlfriend
. Shortly after, however, his hobby
would taken on a greater importance.
During the Cuban revolution
, Korda and other island photographers dedicated themselves to providing photographic documentation of the happenings. He followed Castro's army, capturing the daily life of the guerrillas
Korda's big break came one day in 1960, when he was covering Fidel Castro
's appearance at Havana funeral. While Castro was delivering a speech, Guevara made a rare appearance, where he just stared out into the crowd. Korda was there and managed to capture the most famous picture of the revolution.
"I was about 8 or 10 meters from the tribune where Fidel Castro was speaking.
Suddenly I noticed that Che was approaching the railing..."
However, the newspaper
Korda was working for at the time chose to run a photo of Castro with Jean Paul Sartre
and Simone de Beauvoir
The photo hung in Korda's studio until 1967, when he gave a copy to a visiting Italian
photographer. Some months after, with the news of Che's death in Bolivia
, the photo was published by the Italian and the phenomenon
Korda never received any royalties for the photo.
Alberto Korda went back to life as a Havana photographer, gaining success with his exhibits around the world, but no matter what else he produced, the photo of Guevara was by far his most famous work.
Some years later, Korda was notified of a British
advertising company's intention to use the image of Che in an ad for Smirnoff vodka
. He sued the company successfully for US$50,000. He donated the money to buy medicine for sick children in Cuba
, saying "If Che were still alive, he would have done the same."
Alberto Korda died of a heart attack on May 25, 2001 in Paris, where an exhibit of his work was being shown. He was 72.