Vox Populi

A Public Sphere for Poetry, Politics, and Nature

Video: Masters of Photography — Alfred Eisenstaedt

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This video summarizes the life and work of Alfred Eisenstaedt (1898 – 1995), a German-American photographer and photojournalist. He is renowned for his candid photographs made with a 35mm Leica M3 rangefinder camera, especially for his photograph capturing the celebration of V-J Day.

From his early years as a professional photographer, he became an enthusiast for small 35 mm film cameras, especially the Leica camera. Unlike most news photographers at the time, who relied on much larger and less portable 4″ x 5″ press cameras with flash attachments, Eisenstaedt preferred the smaller hand-held Leica which gave him greater speed and more flexibility when shooting news events or capturing candids of people in action. His photos were also notable as a result of his typical use of natural light as opposed to relying of flash lighting. In 1944, Life magazine, where he worked for many years, described him as the “dean of today’s miniature-camera experts.”

At the time, this style of photojournalism, with a smaller camera that could use available light, was then in its infancy. It also helped Eisenstaedt create a more relaxed atmosphere when shooting famous people, where he was able to capture more natural poses and expressions: “They don’t take me too seriously with my little camera,” he stated. “I don’t come as a photographer. I come as a friend.” It was a style he learned from his 35 years in Europe, where he preferred shooting informal, unposed portraits, along with extended picture stories. As a result, Life began using more such photo stories, with the magazine becoming a recognized source of such photojournalism of the world’s luminaries. Of Life’s photographers, Eisenstaedt was most noted for his “human interest” photos, and less the hard news images used by most news publications.

 

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Text adapted from Wikipedia.

 

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