As voyeurs we see a man being passionately kissed, totally losing himself in the cradling, embracing arms of a lover.
But sometimes a photograph doesn’t tell the full story.
The two men captured in this photograph were power linemen. Doing the kind of routine maintenance work on top of a utility pole that they had probably done a thousand times, one of them, Randall Champion, was struck by more than 4000 volts when he accidentally touched one of the high voltage cables. That is double the volts used by an electric chair.
His heart instantly stopped, he hung their limply suspended by his safety harness. His colleague, J.D. Thompson, quickly reached him and performed mouth to mouth resuscitation, CPR being impossible due to their precarious position. He continued to do this until he felt a slight pulse, then unbuckled the stricken man and brought him back down to the ground, draped over his shoulder.
With the help of another colleague, CPR was given on the ground. Champion was revived by the time of the paramedics arrival, and, thanks to the efforts of his buddy, he survived.
Rocco Morabito, taking photographs for another assignment, witnessed this struggle for life, taking the iconic picture in 1967. It won the Pulitzer Prize the following year.
A picture tells a thousand words, the camera never lies. But the story combines to give context, making it into something beautiful. A symbol of love for our fellow man, and of our utter dependence on each other.