Monday, August 15, 2011

The famous photograph of VJ Day Kiss at Time Square

The famous photograph of VJ Day

V–J day in Times Square, one of the most famous photographs ever published by Life, was shot in Times Square on August 14, 1945, shortly after the announcement by President Truman occurred and people began to gather in celebration. News wire reports of the announcements in Japan had let the media know the likelihood of an imminent announcement. Alfred Eisenstaedt went to Times Square to take his specialty, candid photographs and he spotted a sailor: "There were thousands of people milling around, in side streets and everywhere. Everybody was kissing each other . . . And there was also a Navy man running, grabbing anybody, you know, kissing, I ran ahead of him because I had Leica cameras around my neck, focused from 10 feet to infinity. You only had to shoot . . . I didn't even know what was going on, until he grabbed something in white. And I stood there, and they kissed. And I snapped five times." He took five exposures, but only published the one he selected as the best. Eisenstadt was very gratified and pleased with this enduring image, saying: "People tell me that when I am in heaven they will remember this picture."

The central figures in the photograph never were confirmed by Eisenstaedt although, as he would probably agree, the identities of his fellow subjects were not important - instead the representative nature of the many men and women rejoicing was the intention. Life, however, received nurse Edith Cullen Shain's claim as the woman to hold this honor in a handwritten letter to Eisenstaedt thirty-five years later. After that a call was made in the magazine for the identity of the man. Three women claimed to be the nurse. More than twenty men have claimed to be the sailor, but none has been identified positively as the man. Edith Shain considered the possibility of one man, Carl Muscarello, but finally stated that she could not tell whether he was or not. Shain died Sunday, June 20, 2010, in Los Angeles.

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