Alfred Eisenstaedt

Alfred Eisenstaedt

1898 – 1995

ABOUT

Born in West Prussia, Alfred Eisenstaedt was inseparable from his camera from the moment his uncle gave him one. He began his photographic career in 1928 in Berlin at Pacific and Atlantic Photos, soon to become part of the Associated Press. Capturing such key figures as Hitler and Mussolini at their first meeting, through the agency, he was published in the major European magazines of the time. In 1935, he moved to New York, where he became one of LIFE magazine’s four founding photographers, his images appearing on more than 80 covers over the next six decades. An extremely influential photographer, Eisenstaedt has been called the “Father of Photojournalism.”

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt will be inducted into the International Photography Hall of Fame at a ceremony October 30th, 2020.

V-J Day in Times Square (The Kiss), New York City, 1945

Above Image: V-J Day in Times Square (The Kiss), New York City, 1945 © Alfred Eisenstaedt/Magnum Photos

 

 

Alfred Eisenstaedt was born into an affluent family on December 6th, 1898, in West Prussia. His father, who owned a department store, retired in 1906 and in doing so moved the family to Berlin. Eisenstaedt was given his first camera aged thirteen, and was soon inseparable from it. However, in 1914, with the outbreak of the war, his newfound passion for photography was interrupted when he was recruited into the German army. After the war, he sought any paid job he could find, even becoming a button and belt salesman.

By 1925, Eisenstaedt had saved up enough money for a Zeiss camera and, by 1929, was earning more as a freelance photographer than as a salesman. Although his employer tried to warn him off photography, he left his job and took his first steps towards fame. He began his photographic career at the agency Pacific and Atlantic Photos’ Berlin office in 1928, from where he was sent on various assignments, photographing portraits of a wide range of sitters, from writers to royalty.

Eisenstaedt built a name for himself in Berlin and photographed figures such as Hitler and Mussolini at a meeting in Italy, and Goebbels at the 1933 League of Nations Assembly in Geneva. However, he soon moved to New York where he hoped there would be even greater opportunities for a photojournalist. There, he impressed the editor of LIFE magazine, particularly with his photographs of musicians, and over the next fifty years Eisenstaedt’s photographs appeared on more than eighty covers for LIFE. Not only did he photograph famous personalities but he also captured spontaneous moments including VJ Day, which shows a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square in 1945, that became his most well-known contribution to LIFE magazine.

In 1954 Eisenstaedt held his first solo exhibition in New York and went on to win numerous awards, including the National Medal of the Arts award in 1989. Eisenstaedt was an extremely influential photographer and has been called the “father of photojournalism”.

Alfred Eisenstaedt died on 24 August 1995, aged 97.

 

Image Right: Ice Skating Waiter, St. Moritz, 1932 © Alfred Eisenstaedt/Magnum Photos

Ice Skating Waiter, St. Moritz, 1932

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Eyes of Hate, Geneva,1933. Hitler’s Minister of Propaganda Joseph Goebbels glowers at photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt in the garden of the Carlton Hotel during a League of Nations conference. © Alfred Eisenstaedt/Magnum Photos

 

Right: Sir Winston Churchill, Liverpool, 1951 © Alfred Eisenstaedt/Magnum Photos

Sir Winston Churchill, Liverpool, 1951