Lesson 2

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    I have chosen to write about Alfred Eisenstaedt. I do not consider myself knowledgeable enough to fully appreciate and write about techniques yet and feel that perhaps the reason I feel drawn to Eisenstaedt is as much to do with personality as anything else. I love the spontaneity in his work. His portraits look so natural rather than forced or posed and some of the facial expressions he captures look very real and sometimes kind of funny, for example in a portrait of Bernard Shaw or of French composer, Darius Milhaud. It seems like he didn’t just snap people but really got to know and understand them first where possible. He is able to capture something about their everyday lives and what makes them tick. This can create a feeling of intimacy with the person in the portrait. I feel this in a portrait he took of T.S.Eliot, who looks almost surprised. It seems he has a moment ago been lost in reverie of some book in his private study and has just been startled and looked up. I also sense this in a portrait of Mrs Kennedy and her daughter. They are painting their canvasses and look so engrossed in what they are doing that it appears they aren’t even aware of the camera. No doubt his unobtrusive approach and the way he interacted with others allowed him such closeness and familiarity. Presumably Eisenstaedt loved photography but it seems that he also loved life and people and that his photos were simply a natural extension of this. Apparently he was always on the lookout, not just for a photograph but for examples of people really experiencing and appreciating life, for example in his pictures of children at a puppet theatre, of the drum major practising who becomes like a pied piper to the kids who were playing nearby and of the sailor kissing the nurse. I am very much an in-the-moment kind of person and I love that his photos capture so much of life in a single moment. His photographs bring you close to those in the picture and so you feel that in some way you have also been part of a special experience. I feel that he brought humour, intuitiveness and optimism to his photographs. He was aware that life provides natural drama and interest and so it doesn’t always have to be staged. He put himself in the right place at the right time and created art from what is very natural and real.

    Duncan Rawlinson

    Thank you for sharing this with us.

    I love how you mentioned:

    “Presumably Eisenstaedt loved photography but it seems that he also loved life and people and that his photos were simply a natural extension of this.”

    Very well said.

    If you’re interested in seeing his work you can look through Google images here


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