Tony Vaccaro has never had it easy. As a child, like so many of his era, he was raised both in the United States and Italy. As a young man, interested in becoming a photojournalist, he was drafted into the infantry during World War Two. As a soldier, he arrived on the second wave of the Normandy invasion and then spent the winter in the Hurtgen Forest. After the war, he remained in Germany and photographed for Stars and Stripes.
When Tony returned to his home in the United States, he put the thousands of war photographs he had made in a storage locker, never wanting to see them again. Over the next several decades, he would photograph hundreds of celebrities, models, world leaders, and other persons of interest, both on assignment from magazines and as a genuine freelancer, charming his way into their lives to document them in that special Tony Vaccaro way.
Today, at 94 and with the support of his family, Tony operates the Tony Vaccaro Studio in New York. He proudly told me that he recently returned to his high school in New Rochelle and ran a mile - not as fast as he once did, but taking pride at this accomplishment. While I have known Tony only for a short time, every minute spent with him has been full of wonder, excitement, and the joy of sharing a storied photographer's life.
It is more than fitting that Tony would end up making the world his family.