Alfred Eisenstaedt’s 1945 photo of a sailor kissing a woman in a white dress is one of the most famous photographs ever taken, and one of our all-time favorites. “The Kiss” (or “V-J Day in Times Square”) was taken shortly after President Truman announced Japan’s surrender during WWII. While many photographers posed their subjects kissing during this era, Eisenstaedt caught a truly beautiful and candid moment of celebration:
“In Times Square on V.J. Day I saw a sailor running along the street grabbing any and every girl in sight. Whether she was a grandmother, stout, thin, old, didn’t make a difference. I was running ahead of him with my Leica looking back over my shoulder but none of the pictures that were possible pleased me. Then suddenly, in a flash, I saw something white being grabbed. I turned around and clicked the moment the sailor kissed the nurse. If she had been dressed in a dark dress I would never have taken the picture. If the sailor had worn a white uniform, the same. I took exactly four pictures. It was done within a few seconds. Only one is right, on account of the balance. In the others the emphasis is wrong — the sailor on the left side is either too small or too tall. People tell me that when I am in heaven they will remember this picture.” — Alfred Eisenstaedt
Michael and I wanted to do our best to accurately recreate Alfred’s photograph, so when it came to his sailor suit we splurged for the real thing. I was surprised to find that there are actual vintage 1940s sailor suits on eBay for as low as $50! I shopped carefully for a week or so before I came across one that seemed to have the right measurements and placed the order for $65. The sailor hat I was able to pick up from Walmart for $6. And in the meantime, I found my nurse’s dress for $28 on (where else?) Scrubshopper.com.
THE TICKER TAPE:
Modern sparkly confetti wouldn’t have the right look for Alfred’s photograph, so I decided to make my own “ticker tape” from a roll of white crepe paper. I simply cut the crepe paper into random, imperfectly sized rectangles. The crepe paper makes for a great lightweight confetti that floats down slowly when tossed, giving you plenty of time for a great photo-op kiss!
GET THE LOOK:
For my 1940’s hairstyle, I rolled my hair on small (1 and 1.5 inch) hot rollers and did not brush out the curls. I parted my hair on the side and then pulled two small sections of hair back from either side of my face and secured with bobby pins. I went heavy on the hairspray and added a bright red lip to complete the look. VICTORY!
photographed by jessica attie