This, the ethos often attributed to perhaps the most famous war photographer of all time, was put to its sternest test on what he called the "father and mother of all D-Days".
Working for Life magazine, photojournalist Robert Capa joined thousands of armed men in putting his life on the line on 6 June 1944.
His assignment was to picture American troops as they landed on a section of Normandy coastline at Colleville sur Mer - codenamed Omaha Beach.
It was a particularly chaotic assault that saw more than 34,000 men battling the odds as they crawled toward shore under heavy German bullet fire.
And while Capa had already taken huge risks capturing the bloody Spanish Civil War, nothing had quite prepared the 30-year-old for what he would experience at the heart of the largest seaborne invasion in history.
Capa landed with the first wave of troops in the early hours of the morning.
A Hungarian who had lived for some time in France earlier in his career, he wrote of the dramatic arrival in his memoir, Slightly Out of Focus.
What we now know was that Capa was experiencing one of D-Day's most dangerous landings. Early estimates of 2,000 US casualties are now thought to have underestimated the cost experienced on this first day alone.
"The tide was coming in and now the water reached the farewell letter to my family in my breast pocket," he wrote, as he described mortar shell explosions whereby "every piece of shrapnel found a man's body".
Under normal circumstances, the grey conditions would have been far from favourable for a photographer. However, amid the chaotic landscape of the beach, littered with anti-tank obstacles and shrapnel, the lack of definition merely added to an aura of other-wordliness.
Many publications that used the photos also added a caption to explain the haziness: "Capa's hands were badly shaking."
One in particular, a heavily-blurred image of a GI wading through water, came to be the defining image of the landings.
As he tried to reach the shore, Capa told how he was forced to hide behind a "half-burnt" tank, wading between floating bodies for a few more pictures before his final "jump" to shore.
After an hour-and-a-half of pictures, he eventually boarded a ship where he aided medics as they treated those suffering severe injuries.
From there he made it to Weymouth, where an Army courier sent the film to London to be developed.
However, in the rush to get the stills to print, a dark room accident saw a young lab assistant melt the negatives, destroying all but eleven of the 106 images Capa had captured.
Those that did survive were circulated around the world - celebrated as the first images from the midst of such a great battle.
Capa was well versed in the dangers of war. He had already risked his life in the Spanish Civil War, during which he also lost his lover, fellow war photographer Gerda Taro.
He went on to photograph the Allied push through France that led to victory, and later joined a French regiment covering the Indochina War, some years after saying he was finished with photographing conflict.
Capa stepped on a landmine during that ill-fated assignment, dying on 25 May, 1954 in north Vietnam.
While his work extended far beyond that strip of Normandy beach, the photographs from D-Day remain perhaps his most celebrated.
They were among the first images to document the true nature of war - making real the raw brutality and confusion of the landings that ultimately led to the liberation of Europe from Nazi terror.
This article contains excerpts from Robert Capa's Slightly Out Of Focus (published by Modern Library).