Taking The Iconic Image
Joe Rosenthal took that image on the 23rd of February 1945, some were taken after US troops had won over Japanese forces at the Battle of Iwo Jima. The photographer was planning on his regular tour around the island when he heard news about the US flag being raised on top of Mount Suribachi located on the southern part of the island.
He hurried towards that area armed with his large Speed Graphic Camera which was the most common camera used by photojournalists during that time. Initially, he spotted two other marine photographers and joined them towards the trek to the mountain top. However, they met another photographer who was on his way down - and he told Rosenthal and his group that the flag had been raised on the summit. But because the said photographer shared how great the view was at the top, Rosenthal and company decided to continue on with their trek.
When they reached the summit, Rosenthal attempted to take a photo of the Marines who raised the first flag, until he saw another set of Marines starting to raise another flag that was larger than the first.
Backing off from the group, Rosenthal had the best view in capturing that image, and soon that picture defined his place in the history of photojournalism. The rumor that the photo is staged is not true and born of a misunderstanding. Rosenthal had no idea his action shot would become a sensation. He took a posed shot shortly after and when asked if his photo was posed he replied that it was, thinking they were referring to his second shot. The initial action shot, however, was not posed.
The image was so powerful that it was immediately picked up by wire services around the world. The photograph immediately hit the headlines of Sunday newspapers on February 25, 1945. The photo was also used for a bond drive that garnered $26 billion.
After World War II, Joe Rosenthal became a staff photographer of the San Francisco Chronicle. He worked there for 35 years. He died on August 20, 2006 at the age of 94 years old.