Sailor Kisses a Nurse

After reading “Re-Use Value,” I became very interested in the idea of stock photography and how it connects all forms of media and social culture. Before I even began to read the meaning of stock photography, I already had a clear concept of what it was, as it is ubiquitous in our lives.

The relationship between journalism, art, and commerce is a rather interesting thought—and a very circular one. I couldn’t help but thinking about the V-J Day in Times Square photograph—which is more commonly known as the well-known picture of an American sailor kissing a woman in a white dress.

Alfred Eisenstaedt originally took this photograph, which is (in my opinion) probably irrelevant now that it has become stock photography. It has become such a generic and anonymous looking picture that the average American couldn’t equate Eisenstaedt’s name with the photograph.

Eisenstaedt originally took this picture for and published it in Life magazine. The journalistic photograph quickly become an icon and thus came to the forefront in the commercial world. There is a certain romantic, patriotic, and vintage quality to the photo the consumers of stock photography just cannot resist.

And though this photograph is mainly associated with the commercial world of stock photography, this ever-present photograph has also been used for artistic renditions (such as a life-size sculpture) and the object of much copying (and maybe copyright infringing?—only speculation here, though).

I find it fascinating the pictures that can be considered stock photography become so famous while many obscure ones by avant-garde artists (or similar) never become widely recognized. I wonder what qualities allow a photograph to become stock photography and what the common appeal is amongst them.


About kbless

From the 410, but spending the next 3 years in a lovely little town called Chapel Hill. Love a mix of the fun and the intellectually stimulating.
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