Alfred Eisenstaedt is known for his photograph V-J day in Times Square. That image has been in virtually every textbook, every photographic anthology, every war documentary since it was taken, or so it seems. But Eisenstaedt also has some lesser-known photographs. In fact, this collection was almost entirely forgotten until recently.
In 1952, Life magazine sent Eisenstaedt to Cuba to photograph writer Ernest Hemingway. The photographs would accompany a Hemingway novella that was to be published in the magazine before becoming a book. The story was "The Old Man and the Sea," and that issue of Life went on to sell 5.3 million copies in two days. Unfortunately for Eisenstaedt, Hemingway wasn't quite as cooperative as that famous kissing couple.
An infamously surly character, Hemingway was resistant to Eisenstaedt's camera. Only after much cajoling would the writer put on a shirt, and only with the help of his wife and a cocktail would he acquiesce to a portrait. Eisenstaedt resorted to taking stealthy candids of the writer, and for years after recalled it as his most difficult assignment. Very few photographs from the assignment ran in the magazine; some were rendered as drawings. But today, almost 60 years later, the photographs have resurfaced.
Eisenstaedt photographed the small fishing town of Cojimar, the novella's inspirational setting, as well as one old fisherman in particular — somewhat misleading, as Hemingway insisted that his character was based on no one specifically. More photos from Eisenstaedt's arduous assignment are on life.com.
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