V-J Day in Contact Sheets

For this photo, no further caption is needed, and no more ink (pixels?) will be wasted. Instead, I will leave you with Alfred Eisenstaedt’s two slightly different remembrances of that iconic day. In Eisenstaedt on Eisenstaedt (1985):

In Times Square on V.J. Day I saw a sailor running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight. Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn’t make a difference. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder but none of the pictures that were possible pleased me. Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse. If she had been dressed in a dark dress I would never have taken the picture. If the sailor had worn a white uniform, the same. I took exactly four pictures. It was done within a few seconds.

Only one is right, on account of the balance. In the others the emphasis is wrong — the sailor on the left side is either too small or too tall. People tell me that when I am in heaven they will remember this picture.

In The Eye of Eisenstaedt (1969), he recalled differently:

I was walking through the crowds on V-J Day, looking for pictures. I noticed a sailor coming my way. He was grabbing every female he could find and kissing them all — young girls and old ladies alike. Then I noticed the nurse, standing in that enormous crowd. I focused on her, and just as I’d hoped, the sailor came along, grabbed the nurse, and bent down to kiss her. Now if this girl hadn’t been a nurse, if she’d been dressed dark clothes, I wouldn’t have had a picture. The contrast between her white dress and the sailor’s dark uniform gives the photograph its extra impact.

4 thoughts on “V-J Day in Contact Sheets

    • The Kissing Sailor: The Mystery Behind the Photo That Ended World War II by Lawrence Verria and George Galdorisi
      Publication Date: May 15, 2012
      ISBN-10: 1612510787
      Hardcover: 224 pages
      Publisher: Naval Institute Press; First Edition edition (May 15, 2012)

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