Co Rentmeester with his camera. (Photo by Co Rentmeester/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Co Rentmeester with his camera. (Photo by Co Rentmeester/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

As if it were yet another competition to be won, Co Rentmeester (born 1936) throws himself into every photographic job with the same gusto that he called on when he rowed for Holland in the 1960 Olympics. In 1965 he passed up the safety of the media enclave in Watts to record the street riots. In Vietnam, a sniper’s bullet shattered his camera lens and tore into his left hand. After he mended, LIFE offered him a lengthy sabbatical, but Rentmeester insisted on going straight to a series of wildlife assignments; on the very first shoot, a 400-pound orangutan in Borneo tenderly took his mangled hand into her mouth. Rentmeester has also been responsible for a number of innovations in sports photography, so it comes as no surprise that he has six Sports Illustrated covers to his credit. 

Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

Japanese macaque or snow monkey sitting in waters of a hot spring in the Shiga Mountains during a snowfall. (Photo by Co Rentmeester/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Japanese macaque or snow monkey sitting in waters of a hot spring in the Shiga Mountains during a snowfall. (Photo by Co Rentmeester/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

US swimmer Mark Spitz training for 1972 Munich Olympics. (Photo by Co Rentmeester/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

US swimmer Mark Spitz training for 1972 Munich Olympics. (Photo by Co Rentmeester/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

More Like This

Closeup of beautifully weathered hands of Navajo woman modeling turquoise bracelet & ring made by Native Americans. (Photo by Michael Mauney/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Michael Mauney

A rhesus monkey sitting in water up to his chest. (Photo by Hansel Meith/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Hansel Mieth

Tarsiers,an animal native to Indonesia and Philippines, eating a lizard alive. (Photo by Sam Shere/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Sam Shere

Painter Jackson Pollock smoking as he squats on floor, applying paint to canvas in Long Island studio. (Photo by Martha Holmes/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Martha Holmes

Drawing room at Notre-Dame-de-Vie withPortraits of Picasso and wife Jacqueline taken by David Douglas Duncan (Photo by Gjon Mili/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

David Douglas Duncan

LIFE photographer Philippe Halsman poised w. camera in serious portrait. (Photo by Yale Joel/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Philippe Halsman