"I Shall Return": Carl Mydans
Carl Mydans of LIFE took the dramatic photograph of General Douglas MacArthur and staff coming ashore at Lingayen Gulf, Luzon, in the Philippines on January 9, 1945. MacArthur was commander of the United States forces in the Pacific. When the United States lost the Philippines, he had promised "I shall return." Here is Mydans’ description of that event:
"Luck is forever at play in a photographer’s life. It is part of his
intellectual training to know where luck is most likely to lie and to
take advantage of it. In January 1945 I was the only press
photographer aboard General Douglas MacArthur’s command ship
as he prepared to invade Luzon, in the Philippines. I was invited to
go ashore with him. As our landing craft neared the beach, I saw the
Seabees had got there before us and had laid a pontoon walkway
out from the beach. As we headed for it, I climbed the boat’s ramp
and jumped on to the pontoons so that I could photograph
MacArthur as he stepped ashore. But I suddenly heard the boat’s
engines reversing and saw the boat rapidly backing away. I raced to
the beach, ran some hundred yards along it and stood waiting for
the boat to come to me. When it did, it dropped its ramp in
knee-deep water, and I photographed MacArthur wading ashore."
From a special edition of TIME entitled 150 Years of Photojournalism
"1/400th of A Second": Joe Rosenthal
Joe Rosenthal, a photographer for the Associated Press, caught the decisive moment when he took the photograph of the Marines raising the flag at Mount Suribachi on Iwo Jima on February 23, 1945. Rosenthal won the Pulitzer Prize that year. No photograph better describes the United States effort in the Pacific during World War II than this photograph.
Few photographs have lived on the way this one has. Monuments based on the
photograph have been erected at Arlington, Virginia, and on Marine Corps bases at Parris Island, South Carolina, and San Diego, California. A replica is at the
Marine Corps military school in Harlingen, Texas. The sculptor was Felix de
"H-Hour": Robert Capa
On D-Day June 6, 1944 Robert Capa went ashore with the first American assault troops at Omaha Beach in France. He took 72 photographs, then got on a landing craft leaving the beach and went back to England. A darkroom assistant applied too much heat to the drying negatives, which caused the emulsion to run. Only 11 photographs survived. They were blurred. LIFE magazine ran 10 of the photos in its edition of June 19, 1944.
"The Kiss": Alfred Eisenstaedt
Alfred Eisenstaedt of LIFE took the photograph of a sailor kissing a nurse at the Times Square celebration on August 15, 1945, at the end of World War II. The photograph was one of many Eisenstaedt took that day, and he didn’t bother getting the names of anyone. Only after seeing the proofs did he realize that he had captured a decisive moment. On the 50th anniversary of the photograph, the couple was identified as Edith Shain and Carl Muscarello. Eisenstaedt died on August 24, 1995, at the age of 96. His is the most reproduced photograph in the history of LIFE magazine.