ALFRED EISENSHADT – CLASSIC REPORTING SHOOTING AND AUTHOR OF THE FAMOUS “KISSING ON TIMES SQUARE”
American photojournalist Alfred Eisenstadt is known for his numerous and very talented reportage shots, primarily for Life magazine. Having given over to the profession for more than 70 years, he took many photos in which world leaders pose in an informal setting, and passersby and citizens reveal their characters in their familiar environment.
Alfred Eisenstadt (© Alfred Eisenstaedt) filmed Winston Churchill and Sophia Loren, made reports from the Nobel Prize and the inauguration of John F. Kennedy. His models were almost all the famous writers of the twentieth century: William Somerset Maugham, Bernard Shaw, Ernest Hemingway, who during the photo shoot got terribly angry at the meticulous photographer and almost threw him out of his boat. Eisenstadt was then in danger, but he risked much more during the press conference of Josef Goebbels when the Nazi minister found out that he was being shot by people of Jewish descent.
The photojournalist has created a huge number of amazing pictures that are good both in their own right and in a socio-historical context. However, more than others, his truly legendary work is known – the kiss of a young sailor and nurse in Times Square, filmed in a crowd, while celebrating a victory over Japan.
August 1945 was special for New York, and the joy that filled people, the feeling of liberation and happiness was fully conveyed in the photo. So only Alfred Eisenstadt could catch emotions and give them to the audience.
Ease, insight and art of composition: a special gift from Alfred Eisenstadt
Fans and photo critics call the photographs of Eisenstadt defining in the history of photo essay. The photographer, speaking of his work, argued that his goal was simply to find and grasp the key point of the visual narration. However, his colleagues noted his incredibly attentive, keen eye, the ability in any situation to find the plot for a good picture and “squeeze” the maximum out of the frame.
The surprising impartiality (which only Hitler’s photo is on at parades) and Eisenstadt’s professional insight complement his skill in building a composition. The photographer was a supporter of shooting in natural light, in a relaxed atmosphere – he was ready to pursue ease for any length of time.
He convinced models, often well-known and high-ranking ones, that he came to them not as an annoying paparazzi, but as a friend with whom you can have fun. Eisenstadt was interested, first of all, in the emotions in the picture, and not in the significance of people or events that hit the frame.
Initially, he used them for reports that he did after the First World War for American magazines. Subsequently, he used a small camera to shoot unnoticed by others – onlookers in New York or Saint-Denis, children at the Berlin ballet school or young dads sitting in the waiting room with babies in their arms. This skill was useful to him and to create one of his most famous photographs – a kiss in Times Square.
On the August day of 1945, Alfred Eisenstadt worked in a crowd celebrating the victory of the American armed forces over the Japanese army. With him was a Kodak camera with a film of the same company (Super Double X).
On the square, Eisenstadt noticed a young sailor who was hugging one or another woman, congratulating them on the end of the war. The photographer ran in front of the guy, trying to remove him from a better angle, out of the corner of his eye noticed that the young man embraced the nurse in a white robe – and pressed a button.
Later, Eisenstadt noticed that the pictures (there were four of them altogether) were so successful because of the contrast of the light clothes of the girl and the dark form of the sailor. If he were a couple in something else, he simply would not have photographed her. The pictures were taken with a 1/125 shutter speed on the aperture of 5.6-8, and the most successful of them were printed on a U-turn in Life, along with three other photos of kisses – in Washington, Miami and Kansas. The photograph brought Eisenstadt widespread popularity and became the source of many years of searching for models.
Over the years, many women and men who tried to prove their affiliation to the famous event claimed a “place in history”. If the girl from the photo turned out to be easy to find – officially recognized by Edith Shane, the sailor was searched for a long time. More than a dozen men responded to an ad placed in the media in the early 1980s. At first, the guy with the photo considered Karl Muscarelo, who even posed in the photo dedicated to the sixtieth anniversary of the US victory over Japan.