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

Inside a cell at the notorious Breendonk Nazi prison camp, a former Flemish SS guard is imprisoned after overthrow of German forces. (Photo by George Rodger/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

George Rodger

Indian leader Mohandas Gandhi reading next to a spinning wheel at home. (Photo by Margaret Bourke-White/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Margaret Bourke-White

Boy looking at a cow in London. (Photo by Ian Smith/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

Ian Smith

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

Charlie Chaplin on the set of his film "Limelight," 1952. (Photo by W. Eugene Smith/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

W. Eugene Smith

President Harry S. Truman waving his hat as he holds up a king salmon while fishing with others on Puget Sound. (Photo by George Skadding/The LIFE Picture Collection © Meredith Corporation) Photographer

George Skadding