Written By: Eliza Berman

Alfred Eisenstaedt’s photograph of a sailor kissing a woman in Times Square, after news broke of the Japanese surrender in World War II, has lived a storied life since it was taken on August 15, 1945. Often called “The Kiss,” it became the iconic image of celebration at war’s end, a black-and-white bookend separating an era of darkness from the beginning of a time of peace. It has also in recent years received a sort of #metoo infamy, after the woman in the photo said that the kiss was nonconsensual.

But “The Kiss” was not the only photograph taken that day, nor was Eisenstaedt the only photographer navigating the boisterous New York City festivities. Another LIFE photographer, William C. Shrout, brought a different set of negatives back to the office that day, with his own perspective on the people’s response to peace.

While Shrout’s photos have much in common with Eisenstaedt’s—kisses abounded that day—they capture one thing that Eisenstaedt couldn’t easily have captured: images of Eisenstaedt himself. In one photo, Eisenstaedt kisses a reporter, his camera slung over his shoulder, in a pose not unlike that of the famous kiss he photographed that day. In another, he and that women walk toward Shrout, bright smiles on their faces.

Shrout’s images of a host of other anonymous embraces help put that famous kiss in context. And Shrout’s images of the man behind that photo remind us that, even if a photojournalist is meant to be an impartial witness to history, he is also a part of the history he is witnessing.

Liz Ronk edited this gallery for LIFE.com. Follow her on Twitter @lizabethronk.

A jubilant American sailor clutched a dental assistant in a back-bending kiss at a moment of spontaneous joy about the long awaited WWII victory over Japan. Taken on V-J Day, 1945, as thousands jammed Times Square. In recent decades this iconic photograph has engendered condemnation, after Greta Zimmer Friedman, the woman being kissed by the sailor (believed to have been George Mendonsa) said that the kiss was nonconsensual. In 2019, shortly after Mendonsa died at age 95, a statue of the kiss in Florida was tagged with #metoo graffiti.

Eisenstaedt’s iconic photo: A jubilant American sailor clutched a dental assistant in a back-bending kiss at a moment of spontaneous joy about the long awaited WWII victory over Japan. Taken on V-J Day, 1945, as thousands jammed Times Square. In recent decades this iconic photograph has engendered condemnation, after Greta Zimmer Friedman, the woman being kissed by the sailor (believed to have been George Mendonsa) said that the kiss was nonconsensual. In 2019, shortly after Mendonsa died at age 95, a statue of the kiss in Florida was tagged with #metoo graffiti.

Alfred Eisenstaedt The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt and a reporter during V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt and a reporter during V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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LIFE photographer Alfred Eisenstaedt kissed a reporter during V-J Day celebrations in Times Square, August 14, 1945.

William C. Shrout The LIFE Picture Collection/Getty Images

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