Myron Davis riding a burro while covering a story about a US troop train. (Photo by Myron Davis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

Myron Davis riding a burro while covering a story about a US troop train. (Photo by Myron Davis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

At age 11, Myron Davis (1919-2010) asked his mother how photographs were made. As it turned out, she had done some photographic printing and explained the process to him. Then, Davis recalled: ”I went to the drugstore, got the chemicals… put a blanket over the bathroom window, made a little red light out of some red cellophane, got some old pots and pans, and ran a roll through. I was bit from there on.” His first World War II assignment for LIFE landed him on a beach in New Guinea. There was a mutilated body on a stretcher. “I was so shocked I turned away and said. ‘I cannot photograph this.’ Then I thought, ‘No, this is war. I’ve got to try to deal with this.’” He eventually formed a strategy: “I’d learned the smart thing, even journalistically in a way, was to get what you could and get back safely with your film.” Davis modestly—and wrongly—insisted that he “never really captured the essence of war because most of the time when the bullets were going by, I was trying to squeeze my whole body into that little tin helmet.”

Adapted from The Great LIFE Photographers

LIFE magazine cover published June 7, 1943. Featuring Marine ace pilot Captain Joe Foss wearing his Medal of Honor. (Photo by Myron Davis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

LIFE magazine cover published June 7, 1943. Featuring Marine ace pilot Captain Joe Foss wearing his Medal of Honor. (Photo by Myron Davis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

US soldiers standing guard on a troop train. (Photo by Myron Davis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

US soldiers standing guard on a troop train. (Photo by Myron Davis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

American soldier descending the steps of an LCI towards body of an Australian serviceman killed by a Japanese bomb. (Photo by Myron Davis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

American soldier descending the steps of an LCI towards body of an Australian serviceman killed by a Japanese bomb. (Photo by Myron Davis/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation)

More Like This

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

Watching a high ball during baseball game. (Photo by Mark Kauffman/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Mark Kauffman

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

African-American student Virginius B. Thornton receiving tolerance training before picketing. (Photo by Howard Sochurek/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Howard Sochurek

An elderly Chinese man ice skating. (Photo by Jack Wilkes/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Jack Wilkes

An Arabian showing off his head-dress while taking a drink of water. (Photo by James Jarche/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

James Jarche