Alfred Eisenstadt and Nephew: A chance encounter in Brick Lane
Today I met Alfred Eisenstadt's nephew. It was in a rather fitting setting: The opening day of the Leica pop-up Store in Brick Lane which is an important locale in October's East London Photomonth. I first noticed the very discreet Fuji X100 slung over his shoulder, snug inside an attractive brown-leather half case. At a distance it could have passed for an old M3. But a quick word of appreciation for the Fuji led to a most interesting disclosure. I was speaking to none other than Allan Leas, the nephew of one of the twentieth century's most revered photographers, Alfred Eisenstadt.
Allan turns out to be a keen Leica collector, although he failed to get his hands on the famous IIIa which Eisenstadt used in August 1945 to capture his iconic Times Square kiss for Life magazine. That particular delicacy disappeared into the hands of collectors at a Westlicht auction in 2013. Allan Leas, whose mother Myra was one of the seven sisters of Eisie's wife Alma, has had a career in a number of NGOs and is now a film maker. He lives in London.
Born in West Prussia in 1898, Eisenstadt emigrated to the United States in 1935 to escape the persecution of the Jews and settled in Jackson Heights, New York, for the rest of his life. He died in 1995 at the age of 96. He worked as a staff photographer for Life from 1936 to 1972 during which time he produced many of his iconic images, mostly using Leica cameras.