Photography 1940s

Tony Vaccaro talks about combat photography in World War II on C-Span American Artifacts.

Life magazine is available on Google Books and on the Time-Life website.

Sept. 8, 1941 — Margaret Bourke White, “the first American girl to drive into the Kremlin,” takes photos of Joseph Stalin and describes the experience (starting on p. 26).  “At  last I was sent for. I had no time to be nervous… Stalin is a different looking man from what I had expected. His pictures make him look tall, but he is short. His pictures make his face look plump, but it is rather lean. He looks like a man who has been stout and gotten thinner lately.  He has a kind of gray and tired look… His mustache and hair have a kind of chewed up, straw-like look. He wears boots and plain khaki clothes. His hands are wrinkled.  He looks like a completely strong person, immobile and unemotional…”  He laughed when she dropped to her knees to get this shot.

May 21, 1945 — End of the war profile of Winston Churchill, whose fight against fascism began in the 1920s.  The article describes Churchill warning fellow politicians about Hitler in 1932:   “Labor sneered at his outdated warmongering. Churchills own party had no program but appeasement. At one of his infrequent appearances at a party caucus, he delivered a furious tirade against knuckling down to Hitler, contending: “Is it for this you propose to fling away the ancient heritage bequeathed to us by the architects of our magnitude and renown?” Harold Nicolson, who was present, followed him out of the room,  congratulated him, and, as a writing man, asked if he had improvised the final phrase on his feet. ‘Improvised be damned,’ Churchill snapped. ‘I thought of it this morning in my bath and I wish now I hadn’t wasted it on this crowd.'”
Aug. 27, 1945 — Final victory celebrations include this historic photo by Alfred Eisenstaedt of an American sailor kissing a young nurse in Times Square.  Later he said:
“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 (camera) 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.”

After the war, the US Information Agency was engaged in an ideological conflict with Soviet Russia.  The agency saw photographer Edward Weston as emblematic of American creativity and made this informational film describing  his life and work.