About the artist:
Alfred Eisenstaedt was a German-born American photographer and photojournalist. He began his career in Germany prior to World War II but achieved prominence as a staff photographer for Life magazine after moving to the U.S. Life featured more than 90 of his pictures on its covers, and more than 2,500 of his photo stories were published.
Among his most famous cover photograph was V-J Day in Times Square, taken during the V-J Day celebration in New York City, showing an American sailor kissing a nurse in a "dancelike dip" which "summed up the euphoria many Americans felt as the war came to a close", in the words of his obituary. He was "renowned for his ability to capture memorable images of important people in the news" and for his candid photographs taken with a small 35mm Leica camera, typically with natural lighting.
From his early years as a professional photographer, he became an enthusiast for small 35 mm film cameras, especially the Leica camera. Unlike most news photographers at the time who relied on much larger and less portable 4"×5" press cameras with flash attachments, Eisenstaedt preferred the smaller hand-held Leica, which gave him greater speed and more flexibility when shooting news events or capturing candids of people in action. His photos were also notable as a result of his typical use of natural light as opposed to relying on flash lighting. In 1944, Life described him as the "dean of today's miniature-camera experts."
At the time, this style of photojournalism, with a smaller camera with its ability to use available light, was then in its infancy. It also helped Eisenstaedt create a more relaxed atmosphere when shooting famous people where he was able to capture more natural poses and expressions: "They don't take me too seriously with my little camera," he stated. "I don't come as a photographer. I come as a friend." It was a style he learned from his 35 years in Europe, where he preferred shooting informal, unposed portraits, along with extended picture stories. As a result, Life began using more such photo stories, with the magazine becoming a recognized source of such photojournalism of the world's luminaries. Of Life's photographers, Eisenstaedt was most noted for his "human interest" photos and less the hard news images used by most news publications.
His success at establishing a relaxed setting for his subjects was not without difficulties, however, when he needed to capture the feeling he wanted. Anthony Eden, resistant to being photographed, called Eisenstaedt "the gentle executioner." Similarly, Winston Churchill told him where to place the camera to get a good picture, and during a photo shoot of Ernest Hemingway in his boat, Hemingway, in a rage, tore his own shirt to shreds and threatened to throw Eisenstaedt overboard.
Alfred Eisenstaedt was a German-born American photographer and photojournalist. He began his career in Germany prior to World War II but achieved prominence as a staff photographer for Life magazine after moving to the U.S. Life featured more than