Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph V-J Day in Times Square shows a US Navy sailor embracing and kissing a stranger. While most are familiar with the iconic photograph, did you know there is another version of the picture?
There is another version of the famous Victory Day kiss in Times Square. It was taken from a different angle. But unlike the original, the other photograph was taken by a government photojournalist on official duty.
Times Square V-J Day Kiss
After hearing of the Japanese surrender in World War II, Alfred Eisenstaedt photographed a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square.
It was taken on August 15, 1945, and has had a long and illustrious existence. It became the symbolic image of rejoicing after the war’s conclusion, a black-and-white bookend separating an era of darkness from the beginning of a time of peace, and was dubbed “The Kiss” by many.
Eisenstadt explained how he took the photograph,
I was walking through the crowds on V-J Day, looking for pictures. I noticed a sailor coming my way. He was grabbing every female he could find and kissing them all — young girls and old ladies alike. Then I noticed the nurse, standing in that enormous crowd. I focused on her, and just as I’d hoped, the sailor came along, grabbed the nurse, and bent down to kiss her. Now if this girl hadn’t been a nurse, if she’d been dressed in dark clothes, I wouldn’t have had a picture. The contrast between her white dress and the sailor’s dark uniform gives the photograph its extra impact.Alfred Eisenstaedt
(Source: Veterans Breakfast Club)
A Different Shot with the Same Scene
The following day, U.S. Navy photojournalist Victor Jorgensen captured another view of the same scene, published in The New York Times. Jorgensen titled his photograph Kissing the War Goodbye.
It shows less of Times Square in the background, without the typical view of the complex intersection, so the location must be identified using other details. The photograph is dark and shows few details of the main subjects, including their lower legs and feet, but it clearly shows the powerful headlock.
Unlike the Eisenstaedt shot protected by copyright, this Navy photograph is in the public domain because it was taken while on official duty by a federal employee.
Even though the Jorgensen photograph’s angle is less artistically fascinating than the Eisenstaedt photograph’s, it clearly reveals the exact site of the iconic kiss, which took place in front of the Chemical Bank and Trust building with the Walgreens pharmacy sign visible in the backdrop. Unlike the Eisenstaedt shot, which is protected by copyright, this Navy photograph is in the public domain because it was taken while on official duty by a federal employee. (Source: Veterans Breakfast Club)
Individuals Claiming to be in the Photograph
Many men have claimed to be the sailor, but only a few women have claimed to be the nurse. According to Lawrence Verria and George Galdorisi’s The Kissing Sailor, forensic analysis’s most authoritative study of the subject eliminates all but two claimants: George Mendonsa, a Navy quartermaster on leave from the Pacific, and Greta Zimmer Friedman, a dental assistant from Queens. (Source: Veterans Breakfast Club)