About a year ago on Valentine’s Day, my Dad got me this photo book: “Life: The Classic Collection.” He thought it would help inspire me on my photographic journey, and boy has it ever. The photographs in this book are iconic. And I say photographs because that’s what they are. They aren’t “pics” or “photos,” these are PHOTOGRAPHS. These photographs are so awe inspiring not only because they capture some of the most traumatic and meaningful times in history, but because of the art, timing, and skill that each photographer illustrates in each photograph. When I see these photographs, I realize how far I have to go and how much determination I need. It’s a great kick in the pants as well. AND one of the great details about the classic collection, is that it comes with 25 removable photographs, that you can frame and put around your house, which I will do as soon as I get frames.
Many of these photographs are very recognizable. We’ve grown up seeing them in magazines and highlighted on television. They are timeless. One of the most famous photographs is the classic Times Square Kiss by Life photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt.
Everyone knows this photograph, and it’s one of my favorites. I really didn’t know much about the photograph however. I knew that it was taken on V-J day in Times Square. I knew that the couple was anonymous for a long time. I knew that they didn’t know each other. But that was about it, until today when I ran across this article. On June 23, 2010 Edith Shain (the Nurse) died at age 91. Apparently she didn’t contact Life until the ’70s, and the identity of the sailor is still unknown. According to the photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt, he was in Times Square trying to get some shots, when he saw the sailor going around kissing any woman he could find. Eisenstaedt saw the nurse, and focused on her hoping that the sailor would kiss her, so he was ready when it happened. According to the sliberstudios.tv article, Shain spent the last half of her life educating others on the events of World War II. When interviewed about the spontaneity of the kiss, Shain said this, “This guy grabbed me and we kissed, and then I turned one way and he turned the other. There was no way to know who he was, but I didn’t mind because he was someone who had fought for me.” She also said, “As for the picture it says so many things — hope, love, peace and tomorrow. The end of the war was a wonderful experience, and that photo represents all those feelings.”
I love how passionate the kiss is, how taken surprise the nurse seems, the ladies in the background giggling, and how it is framed as a snap shot. You feel the passion and absolute joy of V-J day. And as Edith Shain says, you experience the hope, love, peace and tomorrow. This photograph represents something we all hope for, not only as photographers, but for our lives…to experience absolute joy and (especially so close to the 4th of July) the end to wars.