Thursday, December 06, 2007

Alfred Eisenstaedt, Photographer of the Defining Moment

Alfred Eisenstaedt, the German photographer whose pioneering images for Life magazine helped define American photojournalism, died in 1995 while vacationing on Martha's Vineyard in Massachusetts. He was 96 and had lived in Manhattan.

Over a career that lasted more than 50 years, Mr. Eisenstaedt became famous as the quintessential Life photographer, producing more than 2,500 picture stories and 90 covers for the magazine. He was especially renowned for his ability to capture memorable images of important people in the news, including statesmen, movie stars and artists.

Still, his most famous photograph is not of a celebrity, but of the joyful celebrations in Times Square on V-J Day, Aug. 14, 1945, when Japan's surrender brought the end of World War II. The picture, which shows an exuberant American sailor kissing a nurse in a dancelike dip, summed up the euphoria many Americans felt as the war came to a close.

The photograph was published on the cover of Life and quickly became a classic example of photojournalism. In recent months it has been widely reproduced in conjunction with the 50th anniversary of the war's end.

Another of Mr. Eisenstaedt's best-known images is a 1933 shot of Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister, glaring at the camera. "Here are the eyes of hate," the photographer wrote later.

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