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Alfred Eisenstaedt

Ballet Master correcting hands, rehearsal at Grand Opera, Paris, France, 1931

Alfred Eisenstadt ( 1898-1995) began taking pictures at the age of 14 when he was given his first camera, an Eastman Kodak Folding Camera with roll film. In 1927 Eisenstaedt sold his first photograph and began his free-lance career for Pacific and Atlantic Photos Agency in Berlin, which was taken over by Associated Press in 1931. Using cumbersome equipment with tripods and glass plate negatives, Eisenstaedt produced many photos on assignment of musicians, writers, and royalty. One of his more famous photographs from the early 1930s depicts a waiter at the ice rink of the Grand Hotel. Another reveals the opera house La Scala, Milan. By 1935 Eisenstaedt had acquired a Rolleiflex camera and immigrated to America. A year later he became one of the original staff photographers for Life Magazine. At that point he was considered one of the masters of the candid photograph. VJ Day in Times Square on August 15, 1945 provided the opportunity for Eisenstaedt to photograph the image for which he is possibly most famous.


Eisenstaedt had his first one-man exhibition in 1954 at the International Museum of Photography at George Eastman House in Rochester, New York. He had many subsequent exhibits and was the recipient of numerous awards, among them the National Medal of the Arts which he received from President George Bush in 1989 in a ceremony on the White House lawn.