Ernst Haas was born in Vienna in 1921. As a child, he decided to become a painter, however, he was drafted into the military for two years after the Anschluss of Austria to the German Reich in 1938. When returning to Vienna after his service, he entered medical school which he was forced to leave after one year of study because of his Jewish ancestry (via).
His father was an amateur photographer. After his death in 1940, Haas started printing his father's negatives teaching himself technical aspects of photography and developing an interest in the creative ones. In photography, he saw the chance to combine his two goals, i.e. becoming an explorer and a painter (via). Haas, in fact, became an early master of colour photography, a member of Magnum, the man behind the iconic photograph of the Marlboro Man, and much more (via).