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)

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