Alfred Eisenstaedt photos are an integral part of the history of photojournalism. He captured informal portraits of kings, dictators, scientists, athletes, and movie stars and sensitively portrayed ordinary people in everyday situations. Alfred Eisenstadt said that his goal was “to find and capture the moment of the story.”
Oldpics has covered the ‘V-J Day,’ which is one of the most remarkable photos by Alfred Eisenstadt. It also hit the list of Top 100 most important photos in history. In this publication, we’ll show you his most brilliant photos.
Buttons and cameras
Alfred Eisenstaedt was born in 1898 in the city of Dirschau (then Eastern Germany, now it’s Tczew in Poland). He died at 96 and devoted more than 70 to photography. Eisenstaedt studied at the University of Berlin, joined the German Army during WWI. After the war, he sold buttons and belts in Berlin and started to freelance as a photojournalist. In 1929, he received his first photo assignment. It was the beginning of a professional career as a photojournalist: he was filming the Nobel Prize ceremony in Stockholm.
A new ‘LIFE’ in the US
From 1929 to 1935, Eisenstadt was a staff photojournalist for the Pacific and Atlantic agency, then a part of the Associated Press. While dodging the horrors of the jew-life in Nazi Germany, he emigrated to the United States in 1935. Alfred Eisenstaedt continued his photo career in New York, working for Harper’s Bazaar, Vogue, Town and Country, and other publications. In 1936, Henry Luce hired him as one of four photographers for LIFE magazine (the other three cameramen were Margaret Burke-White, Peter Stackpole, and Thomas McAvoy). Eisenstaedt stayed with this legendary magazine for the next four decades. His photographs have appeared on the LIFE magazine covers 90 times.
Alfred Eisenstaedt was among those Europeans who pioneered using the 35mm camera in photojournalism on American publications after WWI. He was also an early advocate of natural light photography. When photographing famous people, he tried to create a relaxed atmosphere to capture natural postures and expressions: “Don’t take me too seriously with my small camera,” Eisenstaedt said. – I’m here not as a photographer. I came as a friend. “
Secret trick of Alfred Eisenstaedt
Creating a relaxed environment was not always easy. Let’s take a photoshoot with Ernest Hemingway in his boat in 1952. While establishing those special links between genius and the photographer, the writer tore his shirt in a rage and threatened to throw Alfred Eisenstaedt overboard. The photographer recalled that shooting in Cuba in 1952 more than once. “Hemingway nearly killed me,” the photographer said.
Unlike many photojournalists of the post-war period, Alfred Eisenstadt didn’t commit to any particular type of events or geographic area. He was a generalist. And he liked to capture people and their emotions than the news. Editors appreciated his eagle eye and his talent to take good photographs of any situation or event. Eisenstadt’s skill set a perfect composition that turned his photos into the era’s memorable documents in historical and aesthetic contexts.
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