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American photographer

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Last Updated: Aug 19, 2018

Alfred Eisenstaedt, (born December 6, 1898, Dirschau, West Prussia [now , Poland]—died 23, 1995, Oak Bluffs, , U.S.), pioneering German-American photojournalist whose images, many of them for Life , established him as one of the first and most important photojournalists.

Eisenstaedt served in the German army in from 1916 to 1918, sustaining injuries in both legs. He became an enthusiastic amateur photographer, turning professional in 1929 and joining the lively photojournalism scene in Germany. During the 1920s and early ’30s he was especially influenced by , a pioneer in documentary .

Eisenstaedt was particularly skilled in the use of the 35-mm Leica camera. His work, often created in this format, had appeared in many European picture magazines by the early 1930s. He covered the rise of and in 1935 created a notable series of photographs of Ethiopia, just before the Italian invasion. That same year he immigrated to the , and in April 1936 he became one of the first four photographers hired by the new picture magazine . One of his images was published on the cover of the second issue, and he went on to become the leading Life photographer, eventually having some 2,500 photo-essays and 90 cover photos featured in the magazine.

Eisenstaedt photographed kings, dictators, and motion picture stars, but he also sensitively portrayed ordinary people in workaday situations. His aim, he once said, was “to find and catch the storytelling moment.” Anthologies of his photographs include Witness to Our Time (1966), People (1973), and Eisenstaedt: Germany (1981). He described his life and work in The Eye of Eisenstaedt (1969).

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Alfred Eisenstaedt

American photographer

born December 6, 1898
died August 23, 1995 (aged 96)
Oak Bluffs,
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