Alfred Eisenstaedt
   HOME

TheInfoList



Alfred Eisenstaedt (December 6, 1898 – August 23, 1995) was a German-born American photographer and photojournalist. He began his career in Germany prior to
World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a World war, global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. It involved World War II by country, the vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great ...
but achieved prominence as a staff photographer for ''
Life Life is a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as Cell signaling, signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (they have Death ...
'' 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 photographs was ''
V-J Day in Times Square File:Eisenstaedt signing "VJ day" print on August 23, 1995 at his Menemsha cabin on Martha's Vineyard (cropped).jpg, Alfred Eisenstaedt signing a copy of his famous ''V-J Day in Times Square'' photograph during the afternoon of August 23, 1995, ...
'', taken during the
V-J Day Victory over Japan Day (also known as V-J Day, Victory in the Pacific Day, or V-P Day) is the day on which Imperial Japan surrendered in World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a ...
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 Leica Camera AG () is a German company that manufactures cameras, lenses, binoculars, rifle scopes, microscope A microscope (from the grc, μικρός, ''mikrós'', "small" and , ''skopeîn'', "to look" or "see") is a laboratory ...

Leica camera
, typically with natural lighting.


Early life

Eisenstaedt was born in Dirschau (Tczew) in
West Prussia The Province of West Prussia (german: Provinz Westpreußen; csb, Zôpadné Prësë; pl, Prusy Zachodnie) was a Provinces of Prussia, province of Prussia from 1773 to 1829 and 1878 to 1922. West Prussia was established as a province of the King ...
,
Imperial Germany The German Empire or the Imperial State of Germany,, officially '.Herbert Tuttle Herbert Tuttle (1846–1894) was an American historian. Biography Herbert Tuttle was born in Bennington, Vermont Bennington is a New England town, town ...
in 1898. His family was
Jewish Jews ( he, יְהוּדִים ISO 259-2 , Israeli pronunciation ) or Jewish people are an ethnoreligious group and nation originating from the Israelites Israelite origins and kingdom: "The first act in the long drama of Jewish history is t ...

Jewish
and moved to
Berlin Berlin ( , ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3.7 million inhabitants make it the European Union's List of cities in the European Union by populat ...

Berlin
in 1906. Eisenstaedt was fascinated by photography from his youth and began taking pictures at age 11 when he was given his first camera, an
Eastman Kodak The Eastman Kodak Company (referred to simply as Kodak ) is an American public company A public company, publicly traded company, publicly held company, publicly listed company, or public limited company is a company whose ownership is or ...

Eastman Kodak
Folding Camera A folding camera is a camera type. Folding cameras fold into a compact and rugged package for storage. The lens and shutter are attached to a lens-board which is connected to the body of the camera by a light-tight folding bellows. When the ca ...
with
roll filmImage:120 Film.jpg, A spool of Fujifilm-brand type 120 negative roll film Roll film or rollfilm is any type of spool-wound photographic film protected from Electromagnetic spectrum#Visible_radiation_.28light.29, white light exposure by a paper backin ...
. He later served in the
German Army The German Army () is the land component of the armed forces of Federal Republic of Germany, Germany. The present-day German Army was founded in 1955 as part of the newly formed West German ''Bundeswehr'' together with the German Navy, ''Marine'' ...
's
artillery Artillery is a class of heavy military ranged weapons built to launch Ammunition, munitions far beyond the range and power of infantry firearms. Early artillery development focused on the ability to breach defensive walls and fortifications dur ...

artillery
during
World War I World War I or the First World War, often abbreviated as WWI or WW1, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously known as the Great War or "The war to end war, the war ...

World War I
and was wounded in 1918. While working as a belt and button
sales Sales are activities related to selling or the number of goods sold in a given targeted time period. The delivery of a service for a cost is also considered a sale. The seller, or the provider of the goods or services, completes a sale in r ...

sales
man in the 1920s in
Weimar Germany The Weimar Republic (german: Weimarer Republik ) was the German state from 1918 to 1933, as it existed as a federal constitutional republic. The state was officially the German Reich (german: Deutsches Reich, link=no, label=none), and was also ...
, Eisenstaedt began taking photographs as a
freelancer ''Freelance'' (sometimes spelled ''free-lance'' or ''free lance''), ''freelancer'', or ''freelance worker'', are terms commonly used for a person who is self-employed and not necessarily committed to a particular employer long-term. Freelance w ...

freelancer
for the Pacific and Atlantic Photos' Berlin office in 1928. The office was taken over by the
Associated Press The Associated Press (AP) is an American non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, publ ...

Associated Press
in 1931.


Professional photographer

Eisenstaedt became a full-time photographer in 1929 when he was hired by the
Associated Press The Associated Press (AP) is an American non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, publ ...

Associated Press
office in Germany, and within a year he was described as a "photographer extraordinaire." He also worked for ''Illustrierte Zeitung'', published by
Ullstein Verlag The ''Ullstein Verlag'' was founded by Leopold Ullstein in 1877 at Berlin Berlin (; ) is the Capital city, capital and List of cities in Germany by population, largest city of Germany by both area and population. Its 3,769,495 inhabitants, as ...
, then the world's largest
publishing house Publishing is the activity of making information, literature, music, software and other content available to the public for sale or for free. Traditionally, the term refers to the distribution of printed works, such as book A book is a medi ...
. Four years later he photographed the famous first meeting between
Adolf Hitler Adolf Hitler (; 20 April 188930 April 1945) was an Austrian-born German politician who was the dictator of Nazi Germany, Germany from 1933 to 1945. Adolf Hitler's rise to power, He rose to power as the leader of the Nazi Party, becoming Chan ...

Adolf Hitler
and in
Italy Italy ( it, Italia ), officially the Italian Republic ( it, Repubblica Italiana, links=no ), is a country consisting of a Northern Italy, continental part, delimited by the Alps, a Italian Peninsula, peninsula and List of islands of Italy, se ...

Italy
. Other notable early pictures by Eisenstaedt include his depiction of a waiter at the ice rink of the Grand Hotel in
St. Moritz , neighboring_municipalities = Bever, Celerina/Schlarigna, Samedan, Silvaplana , twintowns = St. Moritz (also german: Sankt Moritz, rm, , it, San Maurizio, french: Saint-Maurice) is a high Alpine Alpine may refer to: P ...

St. Moritz
in 1932 and
Joseph Goebbels Paul Joseph Goebbels (; 29 October 1897 – 1 May 1945) was a German Nazism, Nazi politician who was the ''Gauleiter'' (district leader) of Berlin, chief propagandist for the Nazi Party, and then Reich Ministry of Public Enlightenment a ...
at the
League of Nations The League of Nations, abbreviated as LON (french: Société des Nations , abbreviated as SDN or SdN), was the first worldwide Intergovernmental organization, intergovernmental organisation whose principal mission was to maintain world peace. ...
in
Geneva , neighboring_municipalities= Carouge, Chêne-Bougeries, Cologny, Lancy, Grand-Saconnex, Pregny-Chambésy, Vernier, Switzerland, Vernier, Veyrier , website = geneve.ch Geneva ( ; french: Genève ; frp, Genèva ; german: link=no, Genf ; it, G ...

Geneva
in 1933. Although initially friendly, Goebbels scowled at Eisenstaedt when he took the photograph, after learning that Eisenstaedt was Jewish. In 1935,
Fascist Fascism () is a form of far-right Far-right politics, also referred to as the extreme right or right-wing extremism, are politics further on the right of the left–right political spectrum than the standard political right, particularl ...

Fascist
Italy's impending led to a burst of international interest in
Ethiopia Ethiopia, officially the Federal Democratic Republic of Ethiopia, is a landlocked country in the Horn of Africa. It shares borders with Eritrea and Djibouti to the north, Somaliland to the northeast, Somalia to the east, Kenya to the south ...

Ethiopia
. While working for '''', Alfred took over 3,500 photographs in Ethiopia, before emigrating to the
United States The United States of America (USA), commonly known as the United States (U.S. or US), or America, is a country Contiguous United States, primarily located in North America. It consists of 50 U.S. state, states, a Washington, D.C., federal di ...

United States
, where he joined ''Life'' magazine, but returned in the following year to Ethiopia to continue his photography. Eisenstaedt's family was Jewish.
Oppression Oppression is malicious or unjust Injustice is a quality relating to unfairness or undeserved outcomes. The term may be applied in reference to a particular event or situation, or to a larger status quo or is a Latin phrase meaning the exi ...

Oppression
in Hitler's
Nazi Germany Nazi Germany, (lit. "National Socialist State"), ' (lit. "Nazi State") for short; also ' (lit. "National Socialist Germany") officially known as the German Reich from 1933 until 1943, and the Greater German Reich from 1943 to 1945, was t ...

Nazi Germany
caused them to Emigration, emigrate to the U.S. They arrived in 1935 and settled in New York (state), New York, where he subsequently became a naturalized citizen, and joined fellow
Associated Press The Associated Press (AP) is an American non-profit A nonprofit organization (NPO), also known as a non-business entity, not-for-profit organization, or nonprofit institution, is a legal entity organized and operated for a collective, publ ...

Associated Press
émigrés Leon Daniel and Celia Kutschuk in their PIX Publishing photo agency founded that year. The following year, 1936, ''Time magazine, Time'' founder Henry Luce bought Life (magazine), ''Life'' magazine, and Eisenstaedt, already noted for his photography in Europe, was asked to join the new magazine as one of its original staff of four photographers, including Margaret Bourke-White and Robert Capa. He remained a staff photographer from 1936 to 1972, achieving notability for his photojournalism of news events and celebrities. Along with entertainers and celebrities, he photographed politicians, philosophers, artists, industrialists, and authors during his career with ''Life''. By 1972 he had photographed nearly 2,500 stories and had more than 90 of his photos on the cover. With ''Lifes circulation of two million readers, Eisenstaedt's reputation increased substantially. According to one historian, "his photographs have a power and a symbolic resonance that made him one of the best ''Life'' photographers." In subsequent years, he also worked for ''Harper's Bazaar'', ''Vogue (magazine), Vogue'', ''Town & Country (magazine), Town & Country'' and others.


Style and technique

From his early years as professional photographer he became an enthusiast for small 35mm format, 35 mm film cameras, especially the
Leica camera Leica Camera AG () is a German company that manufactures cameras, lenses, binoculars, rifle scopes, microscope A microscope (from the grc, μικρός, ''mikrós'', "small" and , ''skopeîn'', "to look" or "see") is a laboratory ...

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 Candid photography, candids of people in action. His photos were also notable as a result of his typical use of Available light, natural light as opposed to relying on Flash (photography), 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 story, 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.


Martha's Vineyard

Eisenstaedt, known as "Eisie" to his close friends, enjoyed his annual August vacations on the island of Martha's Vineyard for 50 years. During these summers, he would conduct photographic experiments, working with different lenses, filters, and prisms in natural light. Eisenstaedt was fond of Martha's Vineyard's photogenic lighthouses and was the focus of lighthouse fundraisers organized by Vineyard Environmental Research Institute (VERI). Two years before his death, Eisenstaedt photographed President Bill Clinton with wife Hillary Clinton, Hillary and daughter Chelsea Clinton, Chelsea. The session took place at the Granary Gallery in West Tisbury, Massachusetts, West Tisbury on Martha's Vineyard and was documented by a photograph published in People (magazine), ''People'' magazine on September 13, 1993.


Personal life and death

After first settling in New York City in 1935, Eisenstaedt lived in Jackson Heights, Queens, New York, for the rest of his life. Until shortly before his death, he would walk daily from his home to his ''Life'' office on the Sixth Avenue (Manhattan), Avenue of the Americas and 51st Street (Manhattan), 51st Street. He died in his bed at midnight at his beloved Menemsha Inn cottage known as the "Pilot House" at age 96 in the company of his sister-in-law, Lucille Kaye (LuLu), and friend, William E. Marks.


Notable Eisenstaedt photos

* ''V-J day in Times Square'' Eisenstaedt's most famous photograph is of an American sailor grabbing and kissing a stranger—a young woman—on August 14, 1945, in Times Square. He took this photograph using a Leica IIIa. (The photograph is known under various names: ''
V-J Day in Times Square File:Eisenstaedt signing "VJ day" print on August 23, 1995 at his Menemsha cabin on Martha's Vineyard (cropped).jpg, Alfred Eisenstaedt signing a copy of his famous ''V-J Day in Times Square'' photograph during the afternoon of August 23, 1995, ...
, V-Day,'' and others.) Because Eisenstaedt was photographing rapidly changing events during the
V-J Day Victory over Japan Day (also known as V-J Day, Victory in the Pacific Day, or V-P Day) is the day on which Imperial Japan surrendered in World War II World War II or the Second World War, often abbreviated as WWII or WW2, was a ...
celebrations, he stated that he did not get a chance to obtain names and details, which has encouraged a number of mutually V-J Day in Times Square#Identity of the kissers, incompatible claims to the identities of the subjects. Their identities turned out to be George Mendonsa (1923–2019) and Greta Zimmer Friedman (1924–2016). * ''Portraits of Sophia Loren'' The portraits of Sophia Loren have been described as conveying mischievousness, dignity, and love on the part of both Eisenstaedt and Loren. * ''Ice Skating Waiter, St. Moritz'' This 1932 photograph depicts a waiter at the ice rink of the Grand Hotel. "I did one smashing picture", Eisenstaedt wrote, "of the skating headwaiter. To be sure the picture was sharp, I put a chair on the ice and asked the waiter to skate by it. I had a Miroflex camera and focused on the chair."


Awards

* 1989: National Medal of Arts. Awarded by President George H. W. Bush in a ceremony on the White House lawn.


Exhibitions

* ''Alfred Eisenstaedt: 'Eisie' at 88,'' International Center of Photography, New York City, 1986. A retrospective.


Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards for Magazine Photography

Since 1998, the Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards for Magazine Photography have been administered by Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism.Alfred Eisenstaedt Awards Established at Columbia, 11 November 1997
/ref>


See also

* Life (magazine)#Contributors, Notable contributors to ''Life'' * Erich Salomon (influence)


References


External links


JFK Original Note to Eisenstaedt, from Guest Book
Shapell Manuscript Foundation
Eisenstaedt biography

Encyclopædia Britannica
{{DEFAULTSORT:Eisenstaedt, Alfred 20th-century American photographers 20th-century German photographers American portrait photographers American photojournalists German photojournalists Street photographers Burials at Mount Hebron Cemetery (New York City) German Jewish military personnel of World War I Recipients of the Iron Cross (1914), 2nd class Photographers from Berlin Jewish emigrants from Nazi Germany to the United States Jewish American artists Life (magazine) photojournalists Photographers from New York (state) People from Tczew People from West Prussia United States National Medal of Arts recipients 1898 births 1995 deaths