Robert Capa (1913-1954)[Refugee transit center, Barcelona], January, 1939

The Thing Itself

Even if there was no title for this photography, it is evident that the subjects of this photo is fleeing from a certain event. This can be inferred from the bags they are all carrying. In addition the woman in front of the line in this photo looks upset, her mouth is curving downwards. There is a sense of bleakness and urgency in this photo. The photographer John Szarkowski mentions in criteria that the subject in person vs photography can show different realities. However the reality in the photograph endures because a picture can last longer than its subjects. This photograph shows refugees fleeing a situation and how it was taken can influence people’s perception of the reality of the subjects.

The Detail

In this photograph, there are people carrying bags and walking down what seems to be a long road. In the background of the procession, we can see something blurry that can be inferred as people. This shows that are a lot of people walking in a line on a very long road. In addition, the background scenery looks desolate, which implies that these people are walking away from a terrible situation. There are a use of lines in photo, the road, the diagonal procession, the hills in the background. In addition, there is a contrast between the background and the people, the top half shows a very light sky and the bottom half shows people in dark clothing.

The Frame

As mentioned before, there is a contrast between light and dark in this photo which frames the subject of the photo. This photograph only frames the refugees that are walking on the road. The frame is important because it brings the viewer’s focus on the refugee and emphasizes the bleakness and seriousness that emanates form the subjects.


The photo captures an important moment in history, World War II. This is one of the most horrible and deadliest wars in history. Viewers with the knowledge of the time frame of this photo can understand the seriousness and urgency of the people in this photo, of having to leave their homes to avoid death and conflicts.

Vantage point

Robert Capa’s use of vantage point show a diagonal line of the procession makes it seem as though the refugees walking towards you. This highlights the urgency in the photo, gives the viewers the sense that these people have been displace and are evidence of the conflict they had escaped from, making the situation of WWII real to the viewers.