After four years of blackout, all the lights in Time Square went on as Mayor LaGuardia announced the Japanese surrender. In a celebration mirrored around the world, from the moment Japan announced its surrender on August 14, 1945, the New Yorkers took to the Square to celebrate a new era of peace, and hope–the image of which was captured on Alfred Eisenstaedt’s picture of an unknown couple kissing.
The picture was neither a highly anticipated embrace by long-lost lovers, nor it also was staged, as many critics have claimed.Eisenstaedt explained: “There were thousands of people milling around, in side streets and everywhere. Everybody was kissing each other…And there was this Navy man running, grabbing anybody, you know, kissing. Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn’t make any difference….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 5 times.”
Yes, he kissed every girl he encountered and this particular nurse slapped him. In the October 1980 issue, in a spread entitled “Who Is the Kissing Sailor?” the LIFE editors reported that eleven men and three women had come forward claiming to be the subjects of the photograph.
A U.S. Navy photojournalist, Victor Jorgensen also captured another view of the same scene, which shows less of Times Square and the bodies of the duo. The photo below was published in the New York Times the following day.
17 thoughts on “V-J Day Kiss”
[…] Harbor) web and graphic designer and developer.Notebook – http://www.mikemattner.com/|||V-J Day Kiss « Iconic PhotosV-J Day Kiss · leave a comment ». kissTIME1208_468×676. In a celebration mirrored […]
[…] 14, 1945, the New Yorkers took to Times Square to celebrate a new era of peace, … Source : V-J Day Kiss Â« Iconic Photos The first dae is August 15, 1945, the day the initial announcement of Japan's surrender was […]
[…] Eisenstaedt is known for his picture of an unknown couple kissing on the Times Square during the VJ Day. However, as he admitted, this image was not Eisenstaedt’s personal favorite. That honor […]
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[…] and present. Edith Shain was almost certain the nurse who was the subject of Alfred Eisenstadt’s famous VJ day photograph. In his sympathetic 10-part series in the 1980s, Geoffrey Crawley, the then editor in chief of […]
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[…] performance art? Like many a good kiss captured on film, this photo was marred by controversy. Like Eisenstaedt, Richard Lam who took the photo didn’t have time to verify the identifies of his subjects; he […]
Many photojournalists stumble-upon events and photos. Often, there is little time to ID the content, just place and time and perhaps the event issues. Some photographers are great documentarians of their work. Paul Moloney in Greeley/Denver Colorado has meticulous notes about his photos. In the 60’s, i watched airbrush artists at a major news organization do what photo-shop does today. Otha Spencer at Texas A&M University, Commerce Texas has taught many photojournalists, some winning a Pulitzer. His rule was touch nothing, choose the subject, moment and exposure. Let God do the rest.
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In the background, under the “W” of the Walgreens sign is my mother, nee Anna Karabots. She was 16 years old at the time. When she heard the news on the radio, she grabbed my Yiayia and said, “Mom, we don’t want to miss this!” They hopped on the train from the Bronx, and just a few minutes after arriving, they witnessed this event taking place. Mom told me, years later, “I just kept wondering how she could hold her breath that long!”
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