David Douglas Duncan, the LIFE photographer who died on June 7 at 102, was in Tokyo in 1950 when the Korean War began. He had been a Marine officer during World War II, so his pictures of war had the breathtaking clarity and intimacy of a lover. He was not a lover of war but of the Marine Corps. He knew what a Marine was doing on the front line, what he was thinking and why–and he showed it. His pictures were collected in the best-selling book This Is War! The photos have no captions. None are needed.
It wasn’t just war. He was alone with Richard Nixon the night Nixon was writing his acceptance speech for the 1968 Republican presidential nomination. He made some of the best pictures of Nixon I’ve ever seen–unguarded and understandable. Our perception of a subject often depends on a photographer recording a telling gesture. He did that with Nixon. DDD brought you into the room and, as he did in all his pictures, brought you along on his adventures.
Loengard is a photographer and was a picture editor for LIFE magazine
This appears in the June 25, 2018 issue of TIME.
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