Carl Mydans (May 20, 1907 – August 16, 2004) was an American photographer who worked for the Farm Security Administration and Life magazine.
Mydans recorded photographic images of life and death throughout Europe and Asia during World War II travelling over 45,000 miles (72,000 km). In 1941, the photographer and Shelley Mydans were the first husband and wife team on the magazine’s staff. Shelley and Carl were captured by the invading Japanese forces in the Philippines and interned for nearly a year at the Santo Tomas Internment Camp in Manila, then for another year in Shanghai, China, before they were released as part of a prisoner-of-war exchange in December 1943.
After their release, Mydans was sent back into Europe for pivotal battles in Italy and France. By 1944, Mydans was back in the Philippines to cover MacArthur’s return. Mydans snapped the moment when General Douglas MacArthur purposefully strode ashore in the Philippines in 1945, The legendary officer had declared, when the Japanese came in 1942, “I shall return,” and Mydans’ photograph of the formidable general immortalized that claim for posterity. Some asserted that it must have been staged, but Mydans resolutely defended the photograph as entirely spontaneous, though he did admit that MacArthur was savvy about public-relations opportunities. The general had appeared in Mydans’ other memorable image from that assignment, watching with other top U.S. brass as a Japanese delegation signed the official documents of surrender on an early September day in 1945. “No one I have ever known in public life had a better understanding of the drama and power of a picture,” Mydans, said about MacArthur.
Mydans also captured the signing of Japan’s surrender aboard the USS. Missouri.