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

A tiger setting out at dusk for night of hunting in Kanha National Park, Central India(Photo by Stan Wayman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Stan Wayman

Actor Charlton Heston as Moses with his arms flung wide while appearing in the motion picture, "The Ten Commandments", as it is shown at drive-in movie theater. (Photo by J.R. Eyerman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

J.R. Eyerman

Models lying on beach to display bathing suits. (Photo by Nina Leen/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Nina Leen

Artist Georgia O'Keeffe, 80 yr. old pioneer of modern American Art.(Photo by Michael Mauney/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

John Loengard

Steve McQueen aims a pistol in his living room. (Photo by Loomis Dean/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Loomis Dean

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