Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Alfred Eisenstaedt’s Surprising Self-Portraits

Alfred Eisenstaedt (December 6, 1898 – August 24, 1995) was a German-American photographer and photojournalist. He is renowned for his candid photographs, frequently made using various models of a 35mm Leica rangefinder camera. He is best known for his photograph capturing the celebration of V-J Day.

The great Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photographic vision wasn’t limited to the intimate portraits he produced of some of the 20th century’s most famous faces, from Marilyn Monroe and Frank Lloyd Wright to Mia Farrow and J. Robert Oppenheimer. After researching seemingly endless negatives, contact sheets, and Eisenstaedt prints, LIFE.com photo editor Liz Ronk rediscovered that the long-time LIFE photographer very often crowned his assignments with one last shot: creating captivating self-portraits, posing — and frequently clowning — with his subjects.

Marilyn Monroe and Alfred Eisenstaedt at Monroe's Beverly Hills home, 1953.

LIFE's Alfred Eisenstaedt (right) poses with Japanese cabinet minister Wataru Narahashi, the principal author of Japan's post-war constitution and a politician who reportedly modeled his career on that of Abraham Lincoln's, Tokyo, March 1946.

Alfred Eisenstaedt and LIFE's National Affairs Editor, Hugh Moffett, on assignment in Kenya, 1966

Alfred Eisenstaedt and Walt Disney, California, 1946.

Alfred Eisenstaedt with Jackie and Caroline Kennedy, Hyannis Port, Massachusetts, 1960.

Alfred Eisenstaedt sits on the lap of Tomojiro Sakata, a former sumo wrestling champion and candidate for the People's Labor Party, Tokyo, 1946.

President John F. Kennedy signs Alfred Eisenstaedt's autograph book after a portrait session in the oval office, 1962.

Alfred Eisenstaedt poses with "beauty culturist" and the first woman to star in her own daily exercise TV show, Debbie Drake, 1962.

Alfred Eisenstaedt and Emperor of Ethiopia Haile Selassie, Addis Ababa, 1955.

Alfred Eisenstaedt pushes photographer Alice Austen in a wheelchair, Staten Island, New York, in 1951, one year before Austen died.

Alfred Eisenstaedt with student-artist Afewerk Tekle, 22, in Ethiopia, 1955. Tekle went on to become one of Ethiopia's most celebrated painters.

Sophia Loren holds her newborn son, Carlo Ponti Jr., in the bedroom of her Italian villa as Alfred Eisenstaedt crouches beside her, 1969.

Alfred Eisenstaedt poses with two unidentified local men while on assignment for LIFE in India in 1963.

In a photograph taken by LIFE colleague Bill Shrout, Alfred Eisenstaedt kisses an unidentified woman reporter in Times Square on VJ Day, August 14, 1945 — a powerful visual echo (in retrospect) of the now-iconic, era-defining "sailor kissing a nurse" picture that Eisenstaedt himself shot that very same day.

(Time & Life Pictures/Getty Images)

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