Alfred Eisenstaedt not get his photograph on to the cover of the first issue of Life. That distinction went to Margaret Bourke-White. The cover of the second issue was by Eisenstaedt, however, and nearly a hundred since. By his own reckoning he has been on 2,500 assignments for Life, a huge total even if spread over a long association.
Eisenstaedt and photojournalism grew up together. In Weimar Germany, every town had an illustrated paper. At their peak both the Münchner Illustrierte Presse and the Berliner Illustrierte had a circulation of nearly two million. Wartime censorship had been lifted, and at 25 pfennigs each, both were within everybody’s reach. The